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In Time and Place by John Hollander


In Time and Place by John Hollander

In this major new collection, John Hollander displays the elegance, versatility, and wit that mark him as perhaps the most urbane poet in America. In Time and Place features a generous offering of new verse, an extended prose piece, and a series of prose poems previously available only in a rare, privately published edition.The tightly rhymed quatrains of the new poems demonstrate once again the freedom Hollander achieves through mastery of form. The consummate control with which he writes in memoriam to a lost love and a time of absence gives him opportunities to move through dimensions most poets never see. His purgatorial mock-journal--dwelling on loss and gain, on difference and effacement, on places and the place of writing--leads into a sequence of captivating prose poems, where imagination centers on the word and language celebrates its own creation.


Unlike the major poets of his generation, Hollander is a practitioner of prosody and continues to consider structure an end as well as a means, as shown in his dazzling display of control in this volume. Perfectly tripartite, it consists of a classic show of quatrains on the subject of lost love, a brilliant entremets in the form of a fictional journal that swallows its own tale, and a series of prose poems. Intellect abounds, and everything works like a clock. But while there is nothing to dispute, at the same time, nothing is memorable either. Hollander brings to mind the conundrum of the unidentifiable Rival Poet of Shakespeare's sonnets. In that contest, Shakespeare triumphed by what he called his rude ignorance : I think good words whilst others write good words. It may be that like the Rival, Hollander has too much polish, refinement and intelligence to catch our ear and to endure. Even after this virtuoso performance, Hollander exemplifies one of the crucial questions in American poetry today: How will the great tradition extend into modern New World culture? * Publishers Weekly * There are three books here, really, the first being a set of poems in quatrains approaching, quite self-consciously, the grief that follows loss. But Hollander's trademark wit and formal flash mix awkwardly with sorrow, as when the poet, pensively preparing chicken, rhymes the quotidian's quack quack with I turn from divination, back.... Of greater interest is the long meditative prose journal following, an excursion into the self, by turns mundane and Kafka-like, that undulates between trivial and philosophical pursuits. But the most intriguing section features a series of rather eerie narrative prose poems, each toying with the concepts of space and place in a way that recalls William Bronk's poems on the nature of physical reality, each making the matter of the images deeply moot. * Library Journal *

About the Author

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Book Info

Publication date

1st October 1986


John Hollander

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Johns Hopkins University Press


112 pages


Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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