Other books byJohn Hollander
In this deeply philosophical and highly inventive new collection, John Hollander, the distinguished author of numerous books of poetry, offers profound yet playful meditations on the reflective mind and on the words with which we come to know the world. In forms as varied as sonnets, songs, and ancient odes, he muses over the ways we use (and misuse) language as “we grasp the world by ear, by heart, by head / And keep it in a soft continuingness.” Here, too, are striking verses about the passage of time as recorded by the movement of light and shadow across a surface, whether it be the face of a clock or the enclosed walls of a Hopper painting. Throughout, Hollander delights us with mirrors, palindromes, and strange and surprising reversals that keep the mind ever alert with the challenge “to make words be themselves, taking time out / From all the daily work of meaning, to / Make picture puzzles of what they’re about.” Donna Seaman has written of John Hollander, “His wise and robustly complex poems span the mind like stone aqueducts or canyon-crossing railroad bridges—awesome works of knowledge and craft, art and devotion.” In this exciting new volume, Hollander shows once again the reach of his poetic imagination. From the Hardcover edition.
The Work of Poetry
New and classic essays by one of America's most distinguished contemporary poet-critics, The Work of Poetry surveys an extraordinary range of poets, from Dante to May Swenson, and George Meredith to Marianne Moore, as well as works from the Psalms to A Child's Garden of Verses.
A Draft of Light
A glorious new collection from one of our most distinguished poets. Here are poems that explore the ways in which ordinary objects open doors to the more hidden, subconscious truths of our inner selves: a bird of “countless colors” calls to mind “the echo . . . / of an inner event / From my forgotten past”; a subway bee sting conjures up quick unlikely visits by the muses—a momentary awareness that is “as much of a / Gift from those nine sisters as / Is ever given.” Other poems lay bare the imperfect nature of our memories: reality altered by our inevitably less accurate but perhaps “truer” recall of past events (“memory— / As full of random holes as any / Uncleaned window is of spots / Of blur and dimming—begins at once / To interfere”). Still others examine the dramatic changes in perspective we undergo over the course of a lifetime as, in the poem “When We Went Up,” John Hollander describes the varied responses he has to climbing the same mountain at different points in his life. In all of the poems Hollander illuminates the fluid nature of physical and emotional experience, the connections between the simple things we encounter every day and the ways in which the meaning we attribute to them shapes our lives. Like the harmonious coming together of bandstand instruments on a summer afternoon, he writes, most of what we come to know in the world is “A dying moment / Of lastingness thenceforth / Ever not to be.” Throughout this thought-provoking collection, Hollander reveals the ways in which we are constantly creating unique worlds of our own, “a draft of light” of our own making, and how these worlds, in turn, continually shape our most basic identities and truest selves.
Blue Wine and Other Poems
John Hollander's "Blue Wine and Other Poems," his first collection of verse since the appearance of his new and selected poems, "Spectral Emanations," shows one of our best poetic craftsmen in America moving into a new phase in his distinguished career. Poems on painting and sculpture, in which Hollander examines the static/dynamic interaction of life and art, are balanced against a graceful lyric cycle, which is itself a commentary on the meaning of art songs. The longer poems in this volume—"Blue Wine," "Monuments," "The Train," and "Just for the Ride"—move beyond Hollander's unique blend of meditative elegance, closely observed detail, and learned wit. They explore even further the realms of mythological vision beyond the boundaries of easy irony. Of the title poem, "Blue Wine," Hollander writes, "I visited Saul Steinberg one afternoon and found that he had pasted some mock- (or rather, visionary) wine labels on bottles, which were then filled with a substance I could not identify. This poem is an attempt to make sense out of what was apparently in them."