Given Dante’s own fascination with the relationship of poets to one another, this exuberantly showcases a vivacious dialogue...

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THE POETS’ DANTE

ESSAYS ON DANTE BY TWENTIETH-CENTURY POETS

A chorus of voices unites to sing the praises of l’altissimo poeta—Dante.

Hawkins and Jacoff present the homages of 28 poets, living and dead, to their great 14th-century Italian forebear. In an interesting editorial choice, the collection is divided between the odes of poets living and poets dead. The dead speak first, and their voices include such luminaries as Ezra Pound, William Butler Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Jorge Luis Borges, W.H. Auden, Robert Lowell, and Howard Nemerov; the living, whose voices have been commissioned to speak, include Seamus Heaney, Charles Wright, W.S. Merwin, Robert Pinsky, Rosanna Warren, Mary Baine Campbell, and Edward Hirsch. Given the multiplicity of poetic styles, periods, and themes that these poets address, reading their reactions to Dante provides revealing insights into a long and twisting poetic lineage that reaches from the medieval to the postmodern, as well as highlighting the ways in which Dante speaks to contemporary social issues. Auden, for example, ponders the meaning of Dante’s love for Beatrice in order to consider questions of human sexuality and the ephemeral beauty of Miss America. The consistent theme throughout is the intensely personal reaction that these 20th-century poets feel for Dante: T.S. Eliot’s introspective “What Dante Means to Me,” Daniel Halpern’s discovery of Dante in a youth hostel in France, and Jacqueline Osherow’s “She’s Come Undone: An American Jew Looks at Dante” all describe the ways in which Dante speaks to modern readers on an individual basis. The collection succeeds in capturing Dante’s genius by limning both the universality and the singularity of his appeal.

Given Dante’s own fascination with the relationship of poets to one another, this exuberantly showcases a vivacious dialogue between the living, the dead, and their Dante.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-374-23536-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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