Anne Stevenson’s review of Ted Hughes’s Birthday Letters appeared in MQR’s Winter 1999 issue. Our dear friend and longtime former Editor Lawrence Goldstein knows the journal’s publishing history like an intimate library, and he reminded us of this treasure from the archives. In the United
At the risk of generalizing perhaps too broadly, prose by poets—that is, prose written by writers whose primary mode is poetry—seems to fall into two camps. Either the writing is extremely sober, to clearly differentiate it from the poet’s poetry (think criticism, or op-eds), or
If Irish poetry could not claim to be fine art before the twentieth century, it is not because there was a lack of Irish poets with talent and voice; rather, it is because the literary world ignored them, or willfully caricaturized them. Though the problem persists, this anthology makes it clear: the work of Irish poets is undeniably diverse, crafted with rigor, and historically urgent.
“Half the stories are about people in cities or in urban centers of the West who are only kind of glancingly aware of the anger and the occupation that’s going on around them.”
Johnson comments on the circumstances that informed many of the poems in the narrative, autobiographical book: watching films with her parents; learning about her father’s work as a bomber pilot in the Air Force during Cold War; and working with her parents’ principal and patient caregiver, Donna.