Portrait Of A Father

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University Press of Kentucky, Dec 14, 2021 - Biography & Autobiography - 96 pages

One of America's great poets writes of his father, lost through death and discovered again through insistent recollection. A death in the family forces a re-sorting and reshaping of all that we can recall of times and people gone from us as we measure our identities by their remembered images.

While prowling in the past, Warren is drawn to likenesses between himself and his father, between himself and others of his family. The poet finds that his father too, in his long silent youth, ventured into the writing of poetry, as have so many, but in time put it away for other things. Gradually this elegy for his father becomes Warren's reverie on the many Warrens and Penns who live now only in his memory. We encounter his mother and his mother's mother, his father's Warren line thrown back over three generations, as he draws forth sameness, giving shape and full form and then sharp recognition to family members who were and must yet remain mysteries. Then we see that Warren is delineating the tenuous threads of all our many unsettled and fragmentary American family histories, that he is tracing all our steps from the coast over mountain trails into the dark wilderness to the west. With him, when we stop to consider our loved and lost ones, we realize the delicacy of our accepted relationships.

In this autobiographical essay and the accompanying poem sequence that echoes it, "Mortmain," Warren's look into the mystery of the past evokes for us the loss and recovery and wonder that death brings.

 

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User Review  - DromJohn - LibraryThing

A rambling attempt to put meaning in a father's life, this book is only for those who list Robert Penn Warren as a favorite author. The ramblings will provide hints to other works. There's a paragraph ... Read full review

Portrait of a father

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In this brief, plainly written, poignantly honest journey into his family's past, the 83-year-old poet/novelist tries to separate facts from the tricks of memory in recalling his grandparents, his ... Read full review

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About the author (2021)

Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989), born in Guthrie, Kentucky, was one of America's most revered writers, producing fiction, poetry, history, and criticism, much of it focusing on the moral dilemmas of the South. He served as America's first poet laureate. He received the Pulitzer Prize three times, for his novel All the King's Men and for his books of poetry Promises: Poems 1954–1956 and Now and Then. He is also the author of Jefferson Davis Gets His Citizenship Back and The Cave.

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