Essays by turns infuriating and engaging (but never dull) conflate social criticism, literary criticism, and aesthetics, take all the "correct" positions, toot Hamill's own horn a bit too loudly, and for (or because of) all that make great reading. Published by Broken Moon Press, PO Box 24585, Seattle, WA 98124-0585. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.
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Part social commentary, part literary criticism, this volume attempts unsuccessfully to define American culture in terms of society's attitudes about poets, poetry and language. To make his points, Hamill uses vague generalizations interspersed with what he apparently hopes are shocking statistics ("In the past decade, thirty thousand women have died in the U.S.A. at the hands of their 'lovers' "). The poet's writing careens all over the place in these socially-minded essays; in "The Necessity to Speak," he ricochets among battered women, Hiroshima, homophobia, the inadequacy of language--all within the space of two pages. Poet and Copper Canyon Press editor Hamill ( Watching the Waves ) seems to have mixed feelings about his artistic vocation, in one essay telling the reader that the "poet wants neither fame nor money, but simply to be of use," and in another, railing against a culture that denies the poet a decent living and recognition for his or her toils. More engaging are Hamill's literary essays, particularly "The Poetry of Kenneth Rexroth" and "An Answering Music: American Poets and Chinese Poetry." His insights are rarely very keen, yet his knowledge of his subjects is extensive.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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