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Showing posts from April 3, 2006

Comment: Heroes and the Historical Record

I was thrilled to get ahold of a copy of EDGAR ALLEN POE & THE JUKE-BOX: UNCOLLECTED POEMS, DRAFTS, AND FRAGMENTS (FSG, March 2006), the new Elizabeth Bishop collection edited by New Yorker poetry editor (and Poetry Society of America president) Alice Quinn. Bishop is one of my favorite poets of all time; I love how plain spoken and unpretentious her poems are at first reading, and the riches they reveal as you examine them. I know she was famously a perfectionist, often spending years hanging on to a poem without publishing it as she waited for the perfect word to come to her; her COLLECTED POEMS is a very slim volume. So it's a fascinating treasure to have this wealth of scraps to pick through, these "rough gems" as the poet David Orr describes them in his review : the phrases born of that fierce and exacting and compassionate mind, even if they never made it into a final form that completely satisfied her. But not everyone feels the same way. A friend of mine at F