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One of the most notable members of the New York School - and its best-known woman - Barbara Guest began writing poetry in the 1950s in company that included John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, Frank O'Hara, and Tames Schuyler. And from the beginning, her practice placed her at the vanguard of American writing. Guest's poetry, saturated in the visual arts, extended the formal experiments of modernism, and played the abstract qualities of language against its sensuousness and materiality. Now, for the first time, all of her published poems have been brought together in one volume, offering readers and scholars unprecedented access to Guest's remarkable visionary work. The Collected Poems moves from her early New York School years through her more abstract later work, including some final poems never before published. Switching effortlessly from the real to the dreamlike, the observed to the imagined, this is poetry both gentle and piercing - seemingly simple, but truly and beautifully dislocating.
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BARBARA GUEST (1920-2006) published over twenty volumes of poetry, and earned awards including the Robert Frost Medal for Distinguished Lifetime Achievement from the Poetry Society of America. HADLEY GUEST is Barbara Guest's daughter. She lives in Berkeley, California. PETER GIZZI is the author of four books of poetry, including The Outernationale (2007). He teaches at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.From School Library Journal:
Influenced by the same 1950s abstract art scene that forged the improvisational aesthetics of John Ashbery and other New York School poets, Guest (1920–2006) nevertheless eschewed the overt playfulness and "personism" of her male counterparts for more oblique modes that combined, say, Marianne Moore's painterly visual sense with H.D.'s and Gertrude Stein's concern with conceptual experimentation. Venturesome and exploratory throughout, Guest's work suggested directions for both "language" poetry and the postmodern lyricism that followed it, performing "a drama of exacting dimension" that questioned and refocused familiar poetic forms—lyric, narrative, prose poem—as if they were "composed with magic and euphony." In an insightful introduction, Peter Gizzi notes that Guest's poems "evoke the joy of being found," and the appearance of this omnibus, gathering the contents of Guest's published volumes from The Location of Things (1960) through The Red Glaze (2005), offers a grand occasion for that discovery. Recommended for most collections.—Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., NY
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