A Swallow Press Book
“Mr. Pritchard’s balanced and expert appraisals put more willfully idiosyncratic and ingenious critics to shame. For Mr. Pritchard the poem always comes first, its value found partly in how much it helps us ‘to live our lives.’”
The Wall Street Journal
William Pritchard’s collection of essays and reviews on poets and poetry ranges from Dryden and Milton through the major American and British poets of the last century. One of them, Philip Larkin, answered an interviewer’s question about what he had learned from his study of other poets by snapping back, “Oh, for Christ’s sake, one doesn’t study poets! You read them, and think: That’s marvelous; how is it done?” Although Pritchard has been talking with students about poets for more than fifty years, his practice in writing has Larkin’s question in mind: how to describe convincingly the way it’s done, the “marvelous” creations of Tennyson, Hardy, Yeats, Robert Lowell, or Larkin himself. Pritchard’s aim throughout is to address not only academics but the larger, intelligent audience of non-specialist readers who look to poetry for the surprise that is central to all imaginative literature.
Hugh Kenner, one of three twentieth-century critics of poetry treated in this book, once wrote that “the chief requisite for criticism is not analytic skill but a trained sensibility.” William Pritchard’s sensibility has been trained in the practice of attending to a poet’s style and voice—of what Robert Frost once called “ear-reading.” His endeavor is not to discover hidden, buried treasures (what the poem “really means”) but to engage with instances of measured language as they reveal themselves, in both the “timing” of individual poems and the historical time in which poets and poetry live.
William H. Pritchard is a professor of English at Amherst College. He has written biographical studies of Robert Frost, Randall Jarrell, and John Updike; a memoir, English Papers; and three collections of essays and reviews. More info →
Save 20% ($23.96)
Save 20% ($47.96)
US and Canada only
To request instructor exam/desk copies, email Jeff Kallet at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To request media review copies, email Laura Andre at email@example.com.
Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center
The poems in One Unblinking Eye cast a steady and serious gaze at life outside the beltways. Whether testifying at a prayer meeting in Indiana, tramping the backwoods of northern New England, or working on an oil derrick in the Gulf, the inhabitants of these poems live on the margins of society. “They are the left-behind, odd-manneredones/Who speak in starts,” Norman Williams writes of the last residents of a West Virginia mining town.
A unique voice among contemporary American poets, John Matthias has compiled here a major new collection, his first volume of poetry since the publication in 1995 of his retrospective collections of shorter and longer poems. Divided into three sections, Pages begins with thirty short poems that range in subject from Ovid and Akhmatova to remembered friends and family.
Once or twice in a generation a poet comes along who captures the essential spirit of the American Midwest and gives name to the peculiar nature that persists there. Like James Wright, Robert Bly, Ted Kooser, and Jared Carter before him, Dan Lechay reshapes our imagination to include his distinct and profound vision of this undersung region.The