Classes on Modern Poets and the Art of Poetry

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Univ of South Carolina Press, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 310 pages
2 Reviews
Widely known as the winner of the 1966 National Book Award and author of the best-selling novel Deliverance, James Dickey devoted himself as much to the critique of the modern literary tradition as to his participation in it. A writer enthralled by teaching, he lectured at several major universities before settling at the University of South Carolina for nearly three decades as poet-in-residence. After his death in 1997, a transcript of his lectures was found among his papers. Collected here and published for the first time, these lectures reveal judgments and appraisals Dickey would use to great effect in his teaching. They also contribute to the unraveling of Dickey's art from the larger-than-life myth that surrounded him. evaluates the relevance of the writer's often sharply worded opinions. The volume brings to life class sessions planned and delivered soon after Dickey took up full-time residence at the University of South Carolina, in the triumphal years following his rapid succession of honours. Full of asides, witticisms and afterthoughts, the sessions suggest not the pontification of a scholar at an academic conference but the confident learning of a practicing poet who happens to enjoy being in the classroom. Clearly setting forth his sense of literary criticism, Dickey repeatedly emphasizes the preeminence of the poet over the critic, the original use of language as a primary criterion for effective poetry, and the centrality of personal reaction to poetry as a measure of its value. Dickey's comments are valuable for their insight into both his own thought processes and those of the poets he reviewed, among them William Butler Yeats, Ezra Pound, Dylan Thomas, A.E. Housman, Gerald Manley Hopkins, Robert Frost, Walter de la Mare and Robert Bridges.

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User Review  - jburlinson - LibraryThing

Startlingly refreshing literary criticism. These are the most un-academic university lectures you're ever likely to encounter, especially in the English department, where they seem to take a perverse ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - HankIngram - LibraryThing

The closest thing to sitting in Dickey's classes on poetry at South Carolina in the 70's. It reminded me of my early college days in Sanford Hall at Appalachian State before I sold out to the business ... Read full review


Kingsley Amis
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Robert Bridges
Charles Causley
Keith Douglas
Walter de la Mare
Robert Frost
Anthony Hecht
The Fugitive Poets
Conrad Aiken
Edwin Muir
Philip Larkin
Mark Van Doren
Randall Jarrell
Sidney Keyes and Alun Lewis
W H Auden

Vachel Lindsay
Ezra Pound
Joe Langland
More Ezra Pound
Dylan Thomas

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About the author (2004)

James Lafayette Dickey, an American poet and novelist, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1923. He is perhaps best known for Deliverance, his novel about four suburban men struggling to survive a canoe trip gone awry, which was made into a popular movie of the same title, starring Burt Reynolds. Dickey also published several volumes of poetry that are marked by his portrayal of a world in conflict. His collected poems (1942-1992) were published under the title The Whole Motion in 1992. After serving as a pilot during World War II, Dickey earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Vanderbilt University. He taught at several universities and worked as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress from 1966 to 1968. He died in 1996.

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