Bowles, Gloria. Louise Bogan's Aesthetic of Limitation. Bloom-
ington: Indiana University Press, 1987. Collins, Martha, ed. Critical Essays on Louise Bogan. Boston: Hall, 1984.
Frank, Elizabeth. Louise Bogan: A Portrait. New York: Knopf, 1983.
Ridgeway, Jacqueline. Louise Bogan. Boston: Twayne, 1984. Upton, Lee. Obsession and Release: Rereading the Poetry of Louise Bogan. Lewisburg, Penn.: Bucknell University Press, 1996.
BOOTH, PHILIP (1925- ) A native New Englander, Philip Booth has long been identified with coastal Maine, a region whose elemental landscape and nautical culture provide much of the imagery that frames his spare, meditative poems. Though he began writing in the allusive, formal manner that characterized academic poetry in the 1950s, Booth soon modulated his style to incorporate the directness of ordinary speech. At the same time, he continued to employ subtle prosodic techniques—such as syllabics, consonance, and assonance—that would lend his restrained, selective vocabulary a robust physicality, as if each word were braced to bear as many interpretations as the reader might require of it. The critic Milton R. Stern calls attention to Booth's use of "hard, North names and things" and the "structural unity of style and theme" that reveals the poet's debt to the transcendentalism of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson (152). Booth's later poems, in particular, consider the characteristics of work and domestic life, acknowledging the plain-spoken strain of MODERNISM associated with William Carlos WILLIAMS.
Born in Hanover, New Hampshire, Booth served as an air force aviation cadet toward the end of World War II and afterward took degrees at Dartmouth (where he studied with Robert FROST) and at Columbia. He was awarded the Lamont Prize for his first collection, Letter from a Distant Land, in 1956 and has received honors from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Institute of Arts and Letters. His retrospective collection Lifelines (1999) won the Nicholas Roerich Museum Poet's Prize.
The expanses of sea, sky, and shore that frequently appear in Booth's poems emphasize the durability and magnitude of the natural environment that circumscribes human endeavor. The Earth endures with or without our presence, and rather than searching in nature for answers to eternal questions, the poet, as Booth suggests in "Saying It" (1985), might more productively strive "to find some word for / how we bear our lives." As Guy Rotella has noted, in Booth's work, "It is human response to place, not place . . . that determines meaning and value" (92). Meaning's source is thus located in our own individual reactions to the external world.
Booth's poems seem to be written in the moment, acutely aware of life's transience. His short, strongly accented lines convey a restrained sense of urgency. In
"Lives" (1976) he inventories nature's progressive signs of seasonal change, concluding that "We grow / to be old." In an interview, Booth observed that art entails "a searching not so much for absolute certainty as for a way through" (Dunn 139), a path that manifests itself only in the particulars of personal growth and change.
Booth has fashioned a poetry that deftly combines economy of expression with connotative resonance, evincing, in Judith Kitchen's words, "a dependable governing sensibility" (384). Framing the immediacies of daily life within the context of their metaphysical dimensions, his earnest but disciplined poems achieve an uncommon degree of consistency and balance.
Was this article helpful?