William Logan has been called the most hated man in American poetry and the most dangerous poetry critic since Randall Jarrell. Beginning with an exploration of some of Robert Frost's least-known poems, these essays consider Ezra Pound's letters, T. S. Elliot's metaphysical lectures, the lightness of Elizabeth Bishop, and the civil tongue of Richard Wilbur, finding in poetry a language that lasts beyond the petty conventions of the age. ,p>Added to these thoughtful essays are provocative reviews of contemporary poetry, full of Logan's caustic wit and sharp-eyed scrutiny. He praises the moral rigor of Anthony Hecht and Geoffrey Hill, the raucous antics of Paul Muldoon, the natural warmth of Seamus Heaney, the violence of Christopher Logue, the cheerful abandon of Amy Clampitt. Intolerant of mediocre verse, Logan ranges widely through the poetry of America, Britain, and Ireland, finding much to criticize, though some of his judgments are surprising, and he is rarely predictable.
While criticism of contemporary poetry is often pallid, diplomatic, and full of evasive judgments, Logan is willing to raise hackles, to be cheerfully controversial. The often eloquent criticism in Desperate Measures, which views poetry from one end of the last century to the other, is a passionate defense of poetry in an unpoetic time.
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