A well-chosen introduction to the artistic and spiritual forces that shaped a poet.


Warmth and passion infuse a collection of poetry and prose.

The national poet of Chuvashia, “a remote non-Russian republic nearly 500 miles to the east of Moscow,” Aygi (1934-2006) left the region to study at the Gorky Literary Institute and, encouraged by his mentor Boris Pasternak, began to write in Russian rather than his native Turkic. “Only writing in Russian will allow you to articulate fully everything that is happening within you,” Pasternak told him. That decision changed the course of Aygi’s career, making him accessible to a vastly larger—and international—readership. France, Aygi’s longtime translator and friend, has collected 23 brief memoirs, interviews, poems, and sketches to reveal the poet’s aesthetic inspirations and affinities. A helpful introduction contextualizes the pieces and identifies poets—e.g., Velimir Khlebnikov and Aleksey Kruchonykh—likely to be unfamiliar to most readers. The volume opens with an homage to Pasternak, written after the writer’s death and more than three decades after his meeting with Aygi. The younger poet was awestruck by a man he worshipped as “the older Friend, the Teacher, the unparalleled Interlocutor.” They discussed creativity, craft, literature, and the nature of existence. Pasternak, Aygi said, was capable of being enchanted “by all kinds of things and at any moment: a falling leaf, a child he met when out walking.” The miracle of creation, he told Aygi, surrounds us: “When you read a text, you are communicating not with letters but with the spirit of the author.” Just as the writer Vladimir Mayakovsky had led him to Pasternak, through Pasternak, Aygi discovered Baudelaire, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Kafka (a name “sacred to me”), and Max Jacob. Aygi pays homage to several of these writers and others, including the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer and French poet René Char. Among avant-garde artists whose work Aygi knew well, Kazimir Malevich receives great adoration.

A well-chosen introduction to the artistic and spiritual forces that shaped a poet.

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8112-2719-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: New Directions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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