For fans of Howe’s poetry and readers fascinated by artistic process.




Accomplished New England poet Howe (Sorting Facts, or Nineteen Ways of Looking at Marker, 2013, etc.) channels her personal story through a series of singular creative sources.

A meandering excursus on the work and correspondence of Wallace Stevens marks the first essay in this hodgepodge collection. From her perch in Guilford, Connecticut, Howe found that Stevens’ depiction of the icy Hartford landscape in “The Snow Man” resonated perfectly with the February chill at the quarry where she walked. In his correspondence of the 1940s and ’50s, Stevens recalled the fondness he held for his early Harvard philosophy professor (and former poet) George Santayana, who in turn cherished the thinking of Spinoza for the “courage, firmness and sincerity with which he reconciled his heart to the truth.” As the nonchronological essays unfold, Howe peppers them with extracts from the writings of early Connecticut observers such as Henry David Thoreau and the ten “unusually tall” sisters of Jonathan Edwards, as well as his widow, Sarah, which brought the author solace at the time of the abrupt death of her husband, Peter Hare, in 2008. Earlier access to Yale’s Sterling Library yielded rich research in the work of the Rev. Hope Atherton and meteorologist Charles Sanders Peirce, among other deceased local souls, allowing Howe to “take my life as a poet from their lips, their vocalisms, their breath.” In the long, tedious essay “Sorting Facts,” Howe examines the work of French documentary filmmaker and photographer Chris Marker, while “Frame Structures” returns to the history of Buffalo, where the author (b. 1937) lived early on as a child. Ultimately, this collection is a kind of working notebook for the poet to explore her research—e.g., on Melville or Ad Reinhardt—and it provides a window to her sources and inspiration.

For fans of Howe’s poetry and readers fascinated by artistic process.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8112-2246-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: New Directions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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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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