Lyrical, affectionate anecdotes about friends and family round out the author’s graceful reflections on creativity.

Tracing the evolution of a poet’s passion.

Growing up in Houston in the 1970s, award-winning poet Biespiel (A Long High Whistle, 2015, etc.) had no aspirations to be a writer. Even as a high school student, though, he loved language. He studied Latin with an inspiring teacher, and as an English major at Boston University, he was entranced by the poets he discovered in the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry: Whitman, Yeats, Stevens, and Auden, among them. Working in a Boston bookshop, he writes, “nearly perfected the romance of myself as a liberal intellectual.” He was inspired, as well, by the elegant speeches of John F. and Robert Kennedy: “part of the reason I became a writer,” he writes, “comes in part from memorizing those words and wishing to embody them in my own.” However, for Biespiel, appreciating others’ words seemed a world apart from writing, a process that accrued “word by word, phrase by phrase, line by line.” He brought to the process lessons he had learned during training as a competitive diver; diving, “a sport of continual adjustments,” taught him “that every time I start a new poem I’m having to learn to figure out how to write poetry all over again.” Diving became “a peculiar sort of model for literary life—for training, for discipline, and for patience.” The author’s literary life began in a small town in Vermont, where he felt “far removed from the bright streets of my East Texas upbringing” and from his family’s Jewish immigrant origins. “It was like I was taking revenge against my life.” From the work of poets like Seamus Heaney and Yves Bonnefoy, Biespiel hoped to learn “how to get my poems to open up to me. And I could hear my poems pleading back to me to be patient. I was lit up with lust for my writing.”

Lyrical, affectionate anecdotes about friends and family round out the author’s graceful reflections on creativity.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61902-993-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: July 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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