Hatlen, Burton. "Joan Retallack: A Philosopher among the Poets, a Poet among the Philosophers." Contemporary Literature 42.2 (summer 2001): 347-375. Lazer, Hank. "Partial to Error: Joan Retallack's ERRATA SUITE." In Opposing Poetries. Vol. 2, edited by Hank Lazer. Evanston Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1996, pp. 70-76. Vickery, Ann. "Taking a Poethical Perspective: Joan Retallack's Afterrimages." In Leaving Lines of Gender: A Feminist Genealogy of Language Writing. Hanover, N.H.: Wesleyan University Press, 2000, pp. 167-178.
REVELL, DONALD (1954- ) Donald Rev-
ell's poem should expose reality through art in the way a prism reveals the colors of light. However, Revell describes his poetics as an attempt to "unname things" and opposes "anything that seeks to define" ("Better Unsaid" 29). What powers his poems is not formal virtuosity, but "delight"—his sincerity and attention to the world and ability to convey experience (29). Concerned with ethical and political problems, Revell is willing to let them shape his aesthetics. Though influenced by John ashbery, Revell cannot be grouped with the new YORK school of poetry. His books show his desire to experiment with new forms, and to revive old ones.
Revell grew up in New York City. He received a Ph.D. in English from the State University of New York, Buffalo in 1980. In 1991 he married the poet Claudia Keelan. Revell was the editor-in-chief of the Denver Quarterly from 1988 to 1994. His first book, From the Abandoned Cities, winner of the 1983 National Poetry Series, is characterized by short lyrics and formal poems; however, he soon started to experiment with less conventional structures and abandoned personal issues for larger themes in his next three books, The Gaza of Winter (1988), New Dark Ages (1990), and Erasures (1992). Appalled at the bombastic rhetoric of early century futurism and vorticism (two literary modernist movements advocating an aesthetic of speed, technical innovation, and political violence [see modernism]), which helped spread fascism and communism, Revell undertook to discredit utopian ideologies by helping his generation rebuild poetry after the mass exterminations of the mid-20th century. Although Paul Celan, Samuel Beckett, and other postHolocaust writers had devised a sparse, pointed rhetoric, Revell chose to "betray the silence" of his predecessors, claiming that poetry needed to return to "the grand gesture, the didactic example," if it were to teach about reality again ("Betraying" 18).
In his most recent work, Revell refuses the formal poetic closure of fixed forms and genres to avoid oversimplifying the real. Poets should ask questions, he says, but not worry about the answers, because "understanding is not necessarily important" ("Conversation"). For Revell, any answer comes short of the truth, and any form comes short of closure. For example, in "Elegy" (1998), Revell discovers that the elegiac genre fails to assuage a mourner's grief. Grief eludes language, and the elegy can only mirror grief's frag mented, elliptical quality: "myself the other / winter even more."
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