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In Self-Interviews, James Dickey speaks thoughtfully and with candor of his life as a poet. He recalls how poetry came to be his career, tracing its growing importance in his life from his youth in Georgia through his years overseas with the Air Force, as a student at Vanderbilt, as a teacher, and as a successful advertising executive. He also tells of how he reworked the life around him into poetry, of the fleeting impressions and lingering thoughts that were the seeds of some of his finest poems, including Cherrylog Road, The Lifeguard, The Fiend, and Falling. Following only a rough outline, Dickey recorded these spontaneous monologues in June, 1968, not long after the publication of his Poems, 1957aEURO 1967, which collected the work from his first five books. These musings, then, date from what was in many ways a natural vantage point on his artistic development, a moment ripe for recollection and analysis. Dickey uses the occasion not only to look back on his career but also to consider his preferences and goals as a poet. I would like to be able to write a poetry, he reveals, that would have something for every level of mind, something that would be accessible to a child and would also give college professors and professional critics something, maybe something they haven't had much of recently, or indeed ever. This book is not so much the autobiography of a poet as it is the biography of a poet's work. Unique and revealing, Self-Interviews is an intimate profile of a decade in the art of one of America's finest poets.
James Dickey's creativity as a poet is well known. But there have been few opportunities for his readers to become familiar with the full dimensions of his mind, with the thoughts and perceptions that lie just outside the matter of his poetry. Sorties brings together the contents of a journal kept by Dickey for several years and six discerning essays on poetry and the creative process. The journal follows Dickey's mind as it alights on a wide array of topics, ranging from the work of his colleagues to the plotting of a new novel, from the onset of old age to pride over accomplishments in archery and guitar playing. Dickey can be blunt in his opinions, as when he states that a second-rate writer like Norman Mailer will sit around wondering what on earth it is that Hemingway had that Mailer might possibly be able to get. But the journal also reveals a great capacity for sympathy, as when Dickey tells of his father's long illness, and a revealing candor-- I am Lewis, he writes of his novel Deliverance, every word is true. The journal is at its most revealing, however, when Dickey discusses the craft of poetry. It is good for a poet to remember, he writes, that the human mind, though in some ways very complicated, is in some others very simple. This awareness that poetry must understand the simplicities of human existence is a recurring concern for Dickey, and he writes with disdain of the brilliant things that too often clog poetry, the stale self-absorption that warps the perceptions of many poets. In the essays that make up the second part of the book, Dickey also focuses on poetry, exploring the relation of the poet to his works, the promise of a younger generation of poets, and the place of Theodore Roethke as the greatest American poet. Wide-ranging and acute, Sorties opens up for the reader the discriminating mind that lies behind some of the most accomplished and memorable poetry written in America in this century.
In 1996, as James Dickey struggled with his impending death and endeavored to overcome it-an effort that had always engaged his imagination- he re-established his priorities. Recognizing that he would die from suffocation brought on by fibrosis of the lungs, he attempted to wring two long poems, Show Us the Sea and For Jules Bacon, from his earlier works and from his old self, not the drunken genius but the football player and weight lifter, the combat aviator and caring father. The transformation was, in all-important respects, a resurrection. These two lengthy poems, together with shorter poems, are thus, literally, the last motion but thematically, these works allude to his previous poetic efforts and summarize his life as death approached. The volume continues the concerns that were always Dickey's primary interests: family, war, death, and love. Moreover, the poetry echoes, in its images and dramatic resolutions, earlier works. While these poems depict the inevitability of death, they also reveal the redemptive quality of that light and acknowledge the transience of its glory. Death, and the Day's Light, the volume of poetry James Dickey was working on when he died, offers the writer's final views on love and death, fathers and sons, and war and resurrection. This volume constitutes an invaluable addition to the canon of a major American poet and allows for a complete understanding of his oeuvre.
The Complete Poems of James Dickey is an authoritative edition of all 331 poems published by one of America's most distinguished poets, collected in one volume for the first time. Dickey's most-admired and most-anthologised poems-such as The Performance, Cherrylog Road, The Firebombing, Falling, and May Day Sermon -along with his epic poem The Zodiac are placed in chronological order of publication, affording a poetic autobiography that reveals the intellectual development and the constant experimentation of an iconic American literary figure. This collection includes 93 poems Dickey did not publish in The Whole Motion (1992), 238 poems that he collected as an overview of his whole career. The Complete Poems of James Dickey also includes an apparatus listing publication data and textual variants for the poems, as well as explanatory notes placing Dickey's poetry in biographical and historical context. Edited with an introduction by Ward Briggs, this authoritative and complete edition will be the definitive primary source for Dickey's poetry. This collection includes a foreword by poet Richard Howard, president of the PEN American Center and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his 1969 collection, Untitled Subjects.
'I don't believe I'd go there if I was you. What's the use of it?' 'Because it's there,' said Lewis. 'It's there, all right. If you git in there and can't get out, you're goin' to wish it wudn't.' A group of middle-aged friends in search of the wilderness experience that has been missing from their big-city lives go canoeing one weekend. They pack all the usual survival gear - plus a banjo and a bow and arrow - and head off. Unskilled and naive, they paddle downstream, enjoying the exercise and the gorgeous scenery. But something is in the air. There are small signs at first: their canoes hit sudden rapids, the river seems polluted with litter and bird feathers, and during the night their tent is punctured by the talons of a hunting owl. Then, the following day, after mooring their canoes by the woods, they are approached by two sinister men. One is carrying a shotgun and the other a knife...
Widely known as the winner of the 1966 National Book Award and author of the best-selling novel Deliverance , James Dickey devoted himself as much to the critique of the modern literary tradition as to his participation in it. A writer enthralled by teaching, he lectured at several major universities before settling at the University of South Carolina for nearly three decades as poet-in-residence. After his death in 1997, a transcript of his lectures was found among his papers. Collected here and published for the first time, these lectures reveal judgments and appraisals Dickey would use to great effect in his teaching. They also contribute to the unraveling of Dickey's art from the larger-than-life myth that surrounded him. In a comprehensive introduction to Dickey's remarks, Donald J. Greiner evaluates the relevance of the writer's often sharply worded opinions. The volume brings to life class sessions planned and delivered soon after Dickey took up full-time residence at the University of South Carolina, in the triumphal years following his rapid succession of honours. Full of asides, witticisms and afterthoughts, the sessions suggest not the pontification of a scholar at an academic conference but the confident learning of a practicing poet who happens to enjoy being in the classroom. Clearly setting forth his sense of literary criticism, Dickey repeatedly emphasizes the preeminence of the poet over the critic, the original use of language as a primary criterion for effective poetry, and the centrality of personal reaction to poetry as a measure of its value. Dickey's comments are valuable for their insight into both his own thought processes and those of the poets he reviewed, among them William Butler Yeats, Ezra Pound, Dylan Thomas, A.E. Housman, Gerald Manley Hopkins, Robert Frost, Walter de la Mare and Robert Bridges.
James Dickey: The Selected Poems is the first book to collect James Dickey's very best poems. Like many visionary poets of the ecstatic imagination, Dickey experimented in a wide variety of literary styles. This volume brings together the finest work from each of the periods in Dickey's extremely controversial career. For over three decades, until his death in 1997, Dickey was one of the nation's most important poets; these are the poems that brought him a popular readership and critical acclaim.
For over three decades, James Dickey has been one of the nation's most important poets and a prominent man of letters. The Whole Motion collects his poetic oeuvre into a single volume: 235 poems from his first book, Into the Stone (1960), to The Eagle's Mile (1990), along with previously uncollected poems and unpublished apprentice works.
Whoever looks to a new book by James Dickey for further work in an established mode, or for mere novelty, is going to be disappointed. But those who seek instead a true widening of the horizons of meaning, coupled with a sure-handed mastery of the craft of poetry, will find this latest collection satisfying indeed. Here is a man who matches superb gifts with a truly subtle imagination, into whose depths he is courageously traveling-pioneering-in exploratory penetrations into areas of life that are too often evaded or denied. The Firebombing, Slave Quarters, The Fiend -these poems, with the others that comprise the present volume, show a mature and original poet at his finest.