Poetry in Person: Twenty-five Years of Conversation with America’s Poets
"One of the best books you will ever read on how poems are actually made."
- Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
One of the "Ten Best Books (Nonfiction) Book of 2010"
Editor's Choice: Over the course of 25 years, great poets such as Amy Clampitt, Lucille Clifton, Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott gathered in a Greenwich Village classroom for the remarkable "Works in Progress" series. Pearl London, teacher of the seminar, was concerned with the process of process rather than completed work. Poets brought unfinished manuscripts and notes to the class, and through London's interviews - which were taped and transcribed for this volume - readers can feel like eavesdroppers listening in on trade-secrets from some of the century's great poets. This collection of interviews and poetry bits reminds us of the rich reward of talking about craft.
- Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune
With the publication of Poetry in Person: Twenty-five Years of Conversation with America’s Poets, editor Alexander Neubauer shares a selection of that fascinating material with the public for the first time.
- Carmela Ciuraru, The Christian Science Monitor
From 1970 to 1998, Pearl London conducted a "Works in Progress" poetry course at the New School in Greenwich Village, inviting poets to bring manuscripts of poems they were struggling with and offer them up for dissection and discussion. London, daughter of M. Lincoln Schuster of Simon & Schuster, was no ordinary teacher, and her guests were nothing less than nascent literary giants. These remarkably candid and inspiring conversations about aesthetic and moral matters would have faded from memory if a stash of forgotten cassette tapes hadn't been found after London's death in 2003. Writer and former New Schooler Neubauer selected and judiciously edited 23 exciting interviews, which, accompanied by photographs of the poets and reproductions of their manuscripts, reveal what poets do and why they do it. Maxine Kumin and Robert Hass have opposite views about abstraction in poetry. June Jordan speaks of poetry and politics. Galway Kinnell calls for a new form of nature poems. Derek Walcott speaks of the "honesty of the line." Extraordinary moments with Frank Bidart, Amy Clampitt, Lucille Clifton, Edward Hirsch, Li-Young Lee, Philip Levine, and James Merrill create a treasury of passionate and enlightening exchanges that illuminate the very life force of poetry.
Booklist Stared Review
"Of the 100 recordings, Neubauer needed to select 23; a difficult choice,but those that made the cut are excellent (and make one wish for the other 77). VERDICT: This is an important work for teachers, students, writers, andthose who appreciate the power of words and how a poem comes into being."- Library Journal
"Starred Review. London was a probing, highly intelligent reader who coaxes statements from her poets that perhaps no one else could...she gets poets to explain their craft in sometimes shockingly clear terms."- Publishers Weekly
"This book is a perfect gift for any reader or writer of poetry."
- Donald Brown, New Haven Review
"Alexander Neubauer has edited this volume that presents a veritable archive left behind by Pearl London...A priceless book!"
- Viola Allo, Sacramento Book Review