A Brilliant Collection Spanning Half A Century, From One Of America's Most Prominent And Powerful Poets
Robert Bly has had many roles in his illustrious career. He is a chronicler and mentor of young poets, was a leader of the antiwar movement, founded the men's movement, and wrote the bestselling book Iron John, which brought the men's movement to the attention of the world. Throughout these activities, Bly has continued to deepen his own poetry, a vigorous voice in a period of more academic wordsmiths. Here he presents his favorite poems of the last decades-timeless classics from Silence in the Snowy Fields, The Man in the Black Coat Turns, and Loving a Woman in Two Worlds. A complete section of marelous new poems rounds out this collection, which offers a chance to reread, in a fresh setting, a lifetime of work dedicated to fresh perspectives. It is a brilliant collection that confirms Bly's role as one of America's preeminent poets writing today.
Heeded in the '60s as the head apostle of the "Deep Image" school of poets; known for "read-ins" against the Vietnam War; and heralded again recently as the author of the men's movement guide Iron John, Bly has been famous several times over. But this broad set of poems from his whole career reveals how detrimentally little his style has changed. Fond of would-be archetypal terms like "the darkness," "fields," "stones," and "the body," Bly seeks simplicity, knowledge of the collective unconscious, solidarity with nature and confidence in his desires: these projects entail, usually, a drastic distrust of subtlety and a near-total repudiation of intellect. Some of Bly's lines make parody pointless: "My body was sour, my life dishonest, and I fell asleep"; "As for me, I want to be a stone! Yes!"; "The bear between my legs/ has one eye only,/ which he offers/ to God to see with"; "In late September many voices/ Tell you you will die"; "More of the fathers are dying each day./ It is time for the sons"Athis last from "Winter Privacy Poems at the Shack." Some of Bly's mannerisms blossomed into brilliance in the work of his late contemporary James Wright; Bly himself has written a few standout poems, most recently the bizarre "An Afternoon in June." But Bly's real and impressive aural skills, his sense of what is easily effective, and his self-assurance, allow him to go on writing what are at bottom the same lines over and over, whether their catalyst is Vietnam, or sex, or the California coast. One might say of Bly's work, as he says of "The Storm," "It lacked subtlety and obeyed/ Something or someone irresistible"; most of his poems now seem easy to resist.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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May 15, 2000
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