Living Is What I Wanted: Last Poems (American Poets Continuum)

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9781880238783: Living Is What I Wanted: Last Poems (American Poets Continuum)

The final collection from one of American's most noted poets.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Ignatow, who died in 1997 at the age of 83, led a distinguished if not meteoric career as a man of letters, having been poet-in-residence at the University of Kentucky and Vassar, a professor at Columbia University and poetry editor for the Nation, not to mention having won several awards including the Bollingen and two GuggenheimsAand having started out in his father's bookbinding business in depression-era Brooklyn. As the title to this posthumous volume, edited by Virginia Terris, Jeanette Hopkins and daughter Yaedi Ignatow, suggests, Ignatow gave his last years to a philosophical search for the meaning of "living": readers can discover some curious answers in these often understated, at times sparely elegant, but always accessible poems. Ignatow's humility, and his secular, unmystical stance, give his voice a startling confidence: "Patient we wait/ so that/ once dead/ we'll know perhaps just who we were,/ with others thinking back on us." ("All Living is Lying") The bookends of birth and death subsume the book, often powerfully. Ignatow's metrics seek the simplicity of William Carlos Williams, whose tone he occasionally adopts, or else the Elizabethan overtones of Robert Creeley. Sometimes the poems sound rushed, or unrevised. Yet the poet is still capable of praise, and finds pleasure in his transitional place in the universe. As the short but perfect "Make of me its purpose," with its subtle, lilting internal rhyme, states: "Let the sun be the creative one/ and make of me its purpose/ of which I know nothing/ except its aging me/ as if I knew that being creative/ is its aim, that is,/ if the sun knows, if at all." (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

In a career that spanned 50 years, IgnatowAwinner of the Bolligen Prize, Guggenheim Fellowships, and the Robert Frost AwardAhas produced poetry that pushed form and content to the outer limits. Ignatow solidifies his poetic genius with this last volume, composed mostly in the final year of his life. The theme of death runs throughout, but it is not something to be feared; instead, the poet sounds content, at peace. Ignatow also explores the writer's life, realizing mournfully, "I write to awaken the silence,/ to acknowledge I have nothing to say." Throughout, rhythms are tight, the diction is sharp, and the imagery lives up to the standard for which Ignatow is known. Honest, straightforward, and filled with humility, these poems are marred only by the obsessiveness of the death theme, to the point where they begin to parody themselves. Overall, however, this is a strong volume by one of America's great master poets.ATim Gavin, Episcopal Acad., Merion, Pennsylvania
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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David Ignatow
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Ignatow, David
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