Rounding It Out: A Cycle of Sonnetelles

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9780226644103: Rounding It Out: A Cycle of Sonnetelles

Acclaimed by writers, critics, and readers from Robert Penn Warren to Stephen Jay Gould, Robert Pack is one of the most widely respected poets in America. Pack's newest collection, Rounding It Out, offers a lyric sequence exploring circularity as a musical principle and as a paradigm of the human experience. The imagistic content of the poems, as well as their structure in four sections—morning, midday, evening, night—recall nature's primary rhythm of departure and return, and the dust-to-dust cycle of a completed lifetime.

Rounding It Out is not only about these themes, but also, through reflection, about its own chosen form. Each of the poems is a cross between a sonnet and a villanelle, a formal innovation Pack calls a sonnetelle. Employing meter and rhyme, assonance and alliteration, Pack takes delight and finds consolation in the sensuousness of the English language even in the face of mortality and ongoing personal loss.

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About the Author:

Robert Pack is the Abernethy Professor of Literature and Creative Writing Emeritus at Middlebury College and Distinguished Senior Professor Emeritus of Humanities in the Honors College of the University of Montana, Missoula. He is the author of five prose works and nineteen previous books of poems, most recently Laughter before Sleep, also available from the University of Chicago Press.

From Kirkus Reviews:

paper 0-226-64411-1 After years of teaching at Middlebury and Breadloaf, the much-published poet has moved to Montana and the state University, a change that may have inspired this marvelous new collection: a cycle of sonnetelles, a nonce form of 16 lines invented by Pack that borrows from both the sonnet and villanelle, repeating lines and rhymes and only slightly varying its iambic pentameters. Despite the tight form, theres nothing claustrophobic or monotonous: Packs light metaphysic deepens as his plain- style verse accumulates its compound-adjectives and its monosyllabic clarity. Divided into four sections of 12 poems each, the sequence reproduces the cycle of the day: morning, midday, evening , and night. Cyclic time is at the center of the entire collection: how the seasons change our perceptions of the natural world; how we fit into the larger scheme of cosmic time and recurrenceall of it, like the grove in Dewdrop, contrived for symmetry. Throughout this skillful sequence, Pack plays with the notion of observer and thing observed, the desire for the self to merge with nature, and the ever-present reminders of impermanence. Even though the sun itself will explode in time (as Aubade notes), all the momentary joys in naturea perfect tomato, the lilacs aroma in May, a moose standing in the still silence, a dewdrop on a maple leafuplift the soul. Packs best lines have a Keatsian intelligence: his simple puns and crisp vocabulary, more reminiscent of Hardy or Frost, also invite us to find solace in grief when grief is rhymedsound advice from an expert. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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