American Poets in Conversation
by Christopher Ricks
pp, ISBN 978-1-903291-16-0 (paperback only), £10.99
US Publication, April
UK Publication, June 2008
wish to order this book
note about Seven American Poets in Conversation
A 480 page volume, gathering together seven of the interviews BTL has conducted
with American poets since its founding in 1998. The poets featured are John Ashbery,
Donald Hall, Anthony Hecht, Donald Justice, Charles Simic, W. D. Snodgrass, and
Richard Wilbur, each of whom talks at length about his work and his life. An informative,
entertaining, candid and occasionally surprising panopticon of a book.
note on John Ashbery
John Ashbery was born in Rochester, New York, in 1927, and was educated at Deerfield
Academy, Massachusetts and at Harvard and Columbia.
the author of numerous books of poetry, amongst them A Worldly Country
(2007); Where Shall I Wander (2005); Chinese Whispers (2002); As
Umbrellas Follow Rain (2001), Your Name Here (2000); Girls on the
Run: A Poem (1999); Wakefulness (1998); Can You Hear, Bird (1995);
And the Stars Were Shining (1994); Hotel Lautréamont (1992);
Flow Chart (1991); April Galleons (1987); A Wave (1984),
which won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Shadow Train (1981); As
We Know (1979); Houseboat Days (1977); Self-Portrait in a Convex
Mirror (1975), which received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the National
Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award; The Vermont Notebook
(1975), Three Poems (1972), The Double Dream of Spring (1970); Fragment
(1969); Rivers and Mountains (1966); The Tennis Court Oath (1962);
and Some Trees (1956), which was selected by W. H. Auden for the Yale Younger
Ashbery is also the author of Other Traditions,
revised versions of the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures he gave In 1989 and 1990
(2000); Three Plays (1978); and A Nest of Ninnies, a novel co-written
with James Schuyler (1969). He also edited The Best American Poetry 1988.
A gathering of his prose pieces was published as John Ashbery: Selected Prose
(2004), and a selection of his art reviews was published as Reported Sightings
Ashbery has received numerous honours, awards and
prizes, a partial list of which would include (In addition to those already mentioned)
two Ingram Merrill Foundation grants (1962, 1972), Poetry magazines
Harriet Monroe Poetry Award (1963) and Union League Civic and Arts Foundation
Prize (1966), two Guggenheim fellowships (1967, 1973), two National Endowment
for the Arts publication awards (1969, 1970), the Poetry Society of Americas
Shelley Memorial Award (1973), Poetry magazines Levinson Prize (1977),
a National Endowment for the Arts Composer/Librettist grant (with Elliott Carter)
(1978), a Rockefeller Foundation grant for playwriting (1979-1980), the English
Speaking Union Award (1979), membership of the American Academy and Institute
of Arts and Letters (1980), fellowship of the Academy of American Poets (1982),
the New York City Mayors Award of Honour for Arts and Culture, Bard Colleges
Charles Flint Kellogg Award in Art and Letters, membership of the American Academy
of Arts and Sciences (1983), American Poetry Reviews Jerome J. Shestack
Poetry Award (1983, 1995), Nation magazines Lenore Marshall Award,
the Bollingen Prize, Timothy Dwight College/Yale Universitys Wallace Stevens
fellowship (1985), the MLA Common Wealth Award in Literature (1986), the American
Academy of Achievements Golden Plate Award (1987), Chancellorship of the
Academy of American Poets (1988-1989), Brandeis Universitys Creative Arts
Award in Poetry (Medal) (1989), the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts (Munich)s
Horst Bienek Prize for Poetry (1991), Poetry magazines Ruth Lilly
Poetry Prize, the Academia Nazionale dei Lincei (Rome)s Antonio Feltrinelli
International Prize for Poetry (1992), the French Ministry of Education and Culture
(Paris)s Chevalier de LOrdre des Arts et Lettres (1993), the Poetry
Society of Americas Robert Frost Medal (1995), the Grand Prix des Biennales
Internationales de Poésie (Brussels), the Silver Medal of the City of Paris
(1996), the American Academy of Arts and Letterss Gold Medal for Poetry
(1997), Boston Review of Bookss Bingham Poetry Prize (1998), the
State of New York/New York State Writers Institutes Walt Whitman Citation
of Merit (2000), Columbia County (New York) Council on the Arts Special Citation
for Literature, the Academy of American Poetss Wallace Stevens Award, Harvard
Universitys Signet Society Medal for Achievement in the Arts (2001), the
New York State Poet Laureateship (2001-2002), and Frances Officier de la
Légion dHonneur (2002).
Ashbery lives in the
Chelsea district of New York City and in Hudson, New York.
note on Donald Hall
Hall was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1928, and was educated at Phillips
Exeter in New Hampshire and at the Universities of Harvard, Oxford and Stanford.
Is the author of numerous books of poetry, including White Apples and the Taste
of Stone: Selected Poems 1946-2006 (2006); The Painted Bed (2002);
Without: Poems (1998); The Museum of Clear Ideas (1993); The
One Day (1988), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los
Angeles Times Book Prize, and a Pulitzer Prize nomination; The Happy Man
(1986), which won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Kicking the Leaves
(1978); The Yellow Room (1971); The Alligator Bride (1969); A
Roof of Tiger Lilies (1964), The Dark Houses (1958); and Exiles
and Marriages (1955), which was the Academys Lamont Poetry Selection
Halls many prose works include autobiographical
books such as The Best Day The Worst Day: Life with Jane Kenyon (2005);
childrens books such as Ox-Cart Man (1979), which won the Caldecott
Medal; memoirs such as Their Ancient Glittering Eyes: Remembering Poets and
More Poets: Robert Frost. Dylan Thomas, T.S. Eliot, Archibald MacLeish, Yvor Winters,
Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound (1993); and collections of short stories such as
Willow Temple: New and Selected Stories (2003).
was poetry editor of The Paris Review from 1953 to 1962, and was a member
of editorial board for poetry at Wesleyan University Press from 1958 to 1964.
has also edited more than fifty textbooks and anthologies, amongst them The
Oxford Book of Childrens Verse in America (1990); The Best American
Poetry (1989); The Oxford Book of American Literary Anecdotes (1981),
New Poets of England and America (with Robert Pack and Louis Simpson, 1957),
and Contemporary American Poetry (1962; revised 1972).
His many honours
and awards include the Lamont Poetry Prize (1955), the Edna St Vincent Millay
Award (1956), two Guggenheim Fellowships (1963-64, 1972-73), inclusion on the
Horn Book Honour List (1986), the Sarah Josepha Hale Award (1983), the Lenore
Marshall Award (1987), the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry (1988),
the NBCC Award (1989), the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in poetry (1989),
and the Frost Medal (1990). He has been nominated for the National Book Award
on three separate occasions (1956, 1979 and 1993), was for five years Poet Laureate
of his home state, New Hampshire (1984-89), and in 2006 accepted appointment as
the Library of Congresss fourteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.
He lives in Danbury, New Hampshire.
note on Anthony Hecht
Hecht was born in New York City in 1923, and was educated at Bard College, Columbia
University and Kenyon College.
His books of poetry include Collected Later
Poems (2004), which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; The Darkness
and the Light (2001); Flight Among the Tombs (1996); The Transparent
Man (1990); Collected Earlier Poems (1990); The Venetian Vespers
(1979); Millions of Strange Shadows (1977); The Hard Hours (1967),
which won the Pulitzer Prize; and A Summoning of Stones (1954).
prose books include Melodies Unheard: Essays on the Mysteries of Poetry
(2003); On the Laws of Poetic Art: The Andrew Mellon Lectures, 1992 (1995)
and Obbligati: Essays in Criticism (1986).
The Essential Herbert (1987) and Jiggery-Pokery: A Compendium of Double
Dactyls (with John Hollander, 1967), and with Helen Bacon he translated Aeschyluss
Seven Against Thebes (1975).
Hechts many honours
and awards included the Prix de Rome (1951), two Guggenheim Fellowships (1954,
1959), The Hudson Review Fellowship (1958), two Ford Foundation Fellowships
(1960, 1968), the Brandeis University Creative Arts Award (1965), a Rockefeller
Fellowship (1967), a Fulbright Professorship in Brazil (1969), an Honorary Fellowship
with the Academy of American Poets (1969), the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the
Russell Loines Award (1968), Membership of the National Institute of Arts and
Letters (1979), Chancellorship (1971), the Bollingen Prize in Poetry (1983), Trusteeship
of the American Academy in Rome (1983), the Librex-Guggenheim Eugenio Montale
Award (1984), the Harriet Monroe Award (1987), the Ruth B. Lilly Poetry Prize
(1988), Chancellorship Emeritus of the Academy of American Poets (1995), the Tanning
Prize (1997), the Corrington Award (1997), and the Poetry Society of Americas
Frost Medal (2000). He was also Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress
in Washington D.C. (1982-1984).
As well as the B.A. he was
awarded by Bard in 1944 and the M.A. he was awarded by Columbia in 1950, Hecht
received honorary doctorates from Bard (1970), Georgetown University (1981), Towson
State University, Maryland (1983) and the University of Rochester (1987).
lived with his wife Helen in Washington D.C., until his death on October 20th,
note on Donald Justice
Justice was born in Miami, Florida, in 1925, and was educated at the universities
of Miami, North Carolina, Stanford, and Iowa.
His books of poetry include Collected
Poems (2004), which was nominated for the National Book Award; New and
Selected Poems (1995); The Sunset Maker (1987); Selected Poems
(1979), for which he won the Pulitzer Prize; Departures (1973), which was
also nominated for the National Book Award; Night Light (1967); and The
Summer Anniversaries (1959), which was the Academy of American Poets
Lamont Poetry Selection.
Justices prose pieces were
gathered in two collections: Oblivion: On Writers and Writing (1998) and
Platonic Scripts (1984).
There is also A Donald Justice Reader
(1991), which brings together some of Justices prose pieces and poems as
well as a memoir.
Justice taught for a variety of institutions,
including Syracuse University, the University of California at Irvine, Princeton
University, the University of Virginia, and the University of Iowa, and the University
of Florida, Gainesville.
He won the Bollingen Prize in Poetry
in 1991 and received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation,
and the National Endowment for the Arts. He served as a Chancellor of The Academy
of American Poets from 1997 to 2003, and in 2004 was invited to serve as Consultant
in Poetry to the Library of Congress In Washington D.C., an honour he had to forgo
because of ill-health.
He lived with his wife, Jean Ross-Justice,
in Iowa City, until his death on August 6, 2004. They have one son, Nathaniel.
note on Charles Simic
Simic was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1938, but emigrated to the United States
in 1953. He served in the army for two years in the early 60s, and in 1967
obtained his B.A. from New York University.
Simic has published
numerous collections of poetry, amongst them My Noiseless Entourage (2005);
Selected Poems: 1963-2003 (2004), for which he received the 2005 International
Griffin Poetry Prize; The Voice at 3:00 AM: Selected Late and New Poems
(2003); Night Picnic (2001); The Book of Gods and Devils (2000);
Jackstraws (1999), which was nominated a Notable Book of the Year by the
New York Times; Looking for Trouble (1997); Walking the Black
Cat (1996), which was a finalist for the National Book Award; Frightening
Toys (1995); A Wedding in Hell (1994); Hotel Insomnia (1992);
The Book of Gods and Devils (1990); The World Doesnt End: Prose
Poems (1990), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; Selected
Poems: 1963-1983 (1990); Unending Blues (1986); Weather Forecast
for Utopia and Vicinity: Poems 1967-1982 (1983); Austerities (1983);
Classic Ballroom Dances (1980), which won the University of Chicagos
Harriet Monroe Award and the Poetry Society of Americas di Castagnola Award;
Charons Cosmology (1977), which was nominated for a National Book
Award; Return to a Place Lit by a Glass of Milk (1974); White (1972);
Dismantling the Silence (1971); Somewhere Among Us a Stone Is Taking
Notes (1969); and What the Grass Says (1967).
has also published a number of prose books: Metaphysician in the Dark (2003),
A Fly in My Soup (2003), Orphan Factory (1998), The Unemployed
Fortune-Teller: Essays and Memoirs (1994), Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art
of Joseph Cornell (1992), Wonderful Words, Silent Truth: Essays on Poetry
and a Memoir (1990), and The Uncertain Certainty: Interviews, Essays, and
Notes on Poetry (1985).
As well as editing several books,
including The Best American Poetry, 1992 and The Essential Campion
(1988), he has also published a great many translations, from poets such as Ivan
Lalic, Vasko Popa, Tomasz Salamun and Aleksandar Ristovic.
Simic has been honoured
with two PEN Awards for his work as a translator (1970, 1980), a Guggenheim Fellowship
(1972), two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1974, 1979), the American
Academy of Poets Edgar Allan Poe Award (1975), the American Academy Award
(1976), a Fulbright Fellowship (1982), an Ingram Merrill Fellowship (1983), a
MacArthur Fellowship (1984), an Academy of American Poets Fellowship (1998),
and the University of New Hampshires Lindberg Award 'for his achievements
as both an outstanding scholar and teacher in the College of Liberal Arts' (2002).
In 1995, he was also elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences;
in 2000 he was appointed a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets; and in
2007 he was appointed as the Library of Congresss fifteenth Poet Laureate
Consultant in Poetry.
Simic lives with his wife in Strafford,
note on W .D. Snodgrass
De Witt Snodgrass was born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1926, and was educated
at Geneva College and the University of Iowa. His books of poetry include Not
for Specialists: New & Selected Poems (2006); The Führer Bunker:
The Complete Cycle (1995); Each in His Season (1993); The Death
of Cock Robin (with DeLoss McGraw) (1989); Selected Poems, 1957-1987;
W.D.s Midnight Carnival (with DeLoss McGraw) (1987); Remains:
A Sequence of Poems (1985); The Führer Bunker: A Cycle of Poems in
Progress (1977), which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle
Award for Poetry and produced by Wynn Handman for The American Place Theatre;
After Experience (1968); and Hearts Needle (1959), which won
the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
Snodgrass has also produced
three books of literary criticism, De-Compositions (2001); To Sound
Like Yourself: Essays on Poetry (2003) and In Radical Pursuit (1975),
a memoir, After-Images (1999), and six volumes of translation, many of
whose contents were gathered together in his Selected Translations (1998),
which won the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award.
well as those listed above, Snodgrasss honours include an Ingram Merrill
Foundation Award (1958), a special citation from the Poetry Society of America
(1960), and the British Guinness Award for Poetry (1961), fellowships from the
Hudson Review (1958), the Guggenheim Foundation (1972) and The Academy
of American Poets (1973), grants from the National Institute of Arts and Letters
(1960) and the Ford Foundation (1963), and membership of the National Institute
of Arts and Letters (1972).
He and his wife Kathy
divide their year between upstate New York and Mexico.
note on Richard Wilbur
Wilbur was born in New York City, in 1921, and studied at Amherst College and
Harvard University. He has published many books of poetry, including Collected
Poems, 1943-2004 (2004); Mayflies: New Poems and Translations (2000);
New and Collected Poems (1988), which won the Pulitzer Prize as well as
being nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Mind-Reader:
New Poems (1976); Walking to Sleep: New Poems and Translations (1969);
Advice to a Prophet and Other Poems (1961); Things of This World
(1956), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award;
Ceremony and Other Poems (1950) and The Beautiful Changes (1947).
has also published a great many translations, producing acclaimed versions of
plays by Molière and Racine, as well as poetry by Akhmatova, Apollinaire,
Baudelaire, Borges, Brodsky, Dante, La Fontaine, Mallarmé, Valéry,
Villon, Voznesensky, and many others.
Wilbur has produced
two essay collections, The Catbirds Song (1997) and Responses
(1976, 2000), and has written (and sometimes illustrated) several books for children,
amongst them The Pig in the Spigot (2000), Opposites, More Opposites,
and Some Differences (2000), and The Disappearing Alphabet (1998).
has also edited a number of books, including Witter Bynners Selected
Poems (1978), Poems of Shakespeare (1966) and Poe: Complete Poems
Wilburs many honours and awards include two
Guggenheim Fellowships (1952, 1963); the Prix de Rome Fellowship (1954); the Edna
St. Vincent Millay Memorial Award (1957); a Ford Foundation Award (1960); the
Melville Cane Award (1962); the Sarah Josepha Hale Award (1968); the Brandeis
University Creative Arts Award (1970); the Henri Desfeuilles Prize (1971); two
Bollingen Prizes (1971, 1963); the Shelley Memorial Award (1972); the Harriet
Monroe Poetry Award (1978); the St. Botolphs Club Foundation Award (1983);
the Drama Desk Award for Translation (1983); a Camargo Foundation Fellowship (1985);
appointment as Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress (1987); the St Louis
Literature Award (1988); the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry (1988);
the Washington College Literature Award (1988); the Taylor Poetry Award (1988);
the Bunn Award (1988); the American Academy of Arts and Letterss Gold Medal
Award for Poetry (1991); the Edward MacDowell Medal (1992); the National Arts
Club Medal of Honour for Literature (1994); two PEN translation awards (1995,
1983); the American Academy Achievement Award (1995); the T. S. Eliot Award (1996);
the Milton Center Prize (1995); the Frost Medal (1996); election as a chevalier
of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques (1997); the Wallace Stevens Award (2003);
the Ruth Lilly Prize (2006).
Wilbur lives in Cummington,