sohn's poetry consistently acknowledges its debt to major modernist figures, including Ezra pound, William Butler Yeats, and William Carlos Williams (see modernism). Loewinsohn grew up in and around San Francisco; as an aspiring Beatnik in the late fifties, he knew Allen GINSBERG, who wrote an introduction to his first published volume, Watermelons (1959), and encouraged Loewinsohn to send the manuscript to Williams, who added his own prefatory letter praising the authors "poetic gift." Loewinsohn credits these two figures with encouraging him to observe daily experience directly in his work and not to strain to produce poetry according to a formula ("Interview"). Nonetheless his modernist-inspired work, while always accessible, is deeply allusive and intertextual, invoking figures from classical antiquity (Ovid, Aristotle), the English (Chaucer, Shakespeare) and the Continental (Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Valéry) literary canon, anthropology and other physical sciences, and, most often, modernism. His forms and themes range from shorter lyrics (see lyric poetry), employing repetition, run-on lines, and economically selected internal rhymes and treating love, family and American sports and landscapes, to essays that inquire into the nature of poetic form by engaging with the theories of Pound and Yeats.
Loewinsohn was born in Iolio, Philippines, and came to the United States in 1945. Initially rejecting university education, in keeping with beat notions of authenticity, he spent his twenties in various printing jobs and hitchhiking across the country until an opportunity to teach at the San Francisco State University
Poetry Center launched his academic career. He earned a B.A. in 1967 from the University of California, Berkeley (where he began teaching in 1970), and an M.A. and Ph.D. (in 1971) from Harvard. He received the Poets Foundation Award in 1963 for The World of the Lie and the Irving Stone Award from the Academy of American Poets in 1966.
Meat Air: Poems 1957-1969 (1970) collects four previous volumes and other poems and develops Loewin-sohn's sense of the imagination's power to transform physical reality, treating poetry as a form of communion, of the word (air) made flesh (meat). In his final published volume, Goat Dances: Poems and Prose (1976), his treatment of language's curative powers grows more sophisticated, and more subtly qualified: He writes of "the dark whole made external / in a muddle of words" ("Goat Dance 'Is it when things are most clear'" ). The volume's opening essay, "May I Have This Dance," playfully examines Pound's definition of logopoeia as "the dance of the intellect among words," a definition which Lowinsohn says "leaves that dance mostly a metaphor." Accordingly dancing stands for various creative and cognitive processes throughout the volume, which combines domestic scenes tenderly portrayed ("All the possible is in your brown / hair" ["Goat Dance: Is it when things are most clear"]), acute attention to physical detail ("the coronae of the furniture in the early / morning streetlight filtering thru the blinds" (from the same poem), and eruptions of racy, antipoetic language ("o bright tits of the world!" ["Goat Dance: 'You inspire me,' you said"]). At its best Loewinsohn's work appeals in diverse ways: Its exploration of the fluid boundaries between poetry and essays and its erudite engagement with the modernist canon afford intellectual pleasures, while his range of interests and clear style offer lyrical rewards.
Barrax, Gerald William. "Four Poets." Poetry (August
1968): 343-344. Harrison, Jim. "California Hybrid." Poetry (June 1966): 198-201.
Loewinsohn, Ron. Interview by Jesse Wolfe. Berkeley, Calif., 14 June 2002.
Pritchard, William H. "Shags and Poets." Hudson Review (autumn 1970): 563-577.
LOGAN, JOHN (1923-1987) John Logan extended the boundaries of confessional poetry as practiced by such figures as Robert lowell. His earlier work was formal but it evolved into a distinctive free verse (see prosody and free verse). In his early years Logan wrote in a lyrical language that coalesced into religious themes. During his marriage he joined the Catholic Church; after the couple divorced, he left the church, although it continued to inspire imagery that would remain a prominent aspect of his poetry.
Logan was born and raised in Red Oak, Iowa. His first book of poetry, Cycle for Mother Cabrini, was published in 1955. He was the recipient of several honors, including the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1974). During his career Logan was founder and editor of Choice until 1980, as well as poetry editor of Critic and the Nation.
Logan's use of religious imagery and confessional voice found a significant readership. Regarding his first collection, John Fandel writes, "This thin volume has weight. Ten poems, most of them long, create the adjectives: vigorous, keen, refreshing, neat. They also define the term lyrical" (124). Logan relied on his Catholic faith for most of his early poetry, although, in later collections, his poetry centers around the ephemeral nature of youth or, more specifically, lost youth from the perspective of an adult. Patrick Callahan notes that a "favorite theme of The Zigzag Walk (1973), for example, is youth's initiation into adulthood. The rite-of-passage is sometimes presented humorously" (642). The poem "Three Moves" from this book demonstrates Logan's ultimate use of religion and concerns about the fleeting moment: For a time the speaker does not remember "The only one who ever dares to call / and ask me, 'How's your soul?'" Here the author is considering his religious background against his life as an older and more experienced adult. The lines concluding this poem are a confession that the speaker does not currently have a priest. A posthumous volume titled John Logan: The Collected Poems (1989) includes some of his best known works. His late poetry continues to center around religion and observations of life from the perspective of an adult; notably, in "Chicago Scene," he alludes to the problems of sexual ambiguity that plagued him throughout life:
"A boyish drummer [who] ticks his brush" illustrates Logan's confusion and self-imposed guilt for latent homosexual urges he discovered as an adult.
Logan's poetry depicts a divergence from the confessional mode Logan used as a younger poet into a poetics that involved his perspective as an adult looking back on his life, his family and his religious experiences and his current view that life passes quickly.
Callahan, Patrick. "Tonal Power, Incoherent Rage: Rhetoric in Three Poets." Sewanee Review 78.4 (spring 1972): 639-644. Fandel, John. "Song and Sanctity." Commonweal 63.5 (4 November 1955): 124-126.
LOGAN, WILLIAM (1950- ) Formally elegant and tonally acerbic, William Logan is associated with new formalism, though he claims that form alone cannot render a poem; he once said, "I can read only so much unvaried pentameter, tedious as a minor god, without wanting to be strangled with piano wire" (140). (See prosody and free verse.) An active reviewer of poetry with a commitment to rigorous art, he recalls the poet-critic Randall jarrell. Logan's poetry is of a piece with his criticism; he examines events and figures from history, science, and art, often judging against the human capacity to better its conditions. Yet he offers compensations for the decaying world: the pleasure of a virtuoso's command of language, an eye for unexpected natural landscapes, and a refusal to sentimentalize human relations.
Logan was born and raised in Boston. In 1980 he spent time in England on an Amy lowell Poetry Traveling Fellowship. His first book was published in 1982. In 1988 the National Book Critics Circle awarded Logan a citation for excellence in reviewing and in 2000 made him a finalist for their award in criticism. He has received the John Masefield and Celia B. Wagner Awards from the Poetry Society of America (1991) as well as the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets (2000). He has taught at the University of Florida.
Technical complexity and sharp analysis characterize all of Logan's work. His poems are metered and rhymed, though they push against form by rhyming and breaking stanzas irregularly. A common theme to be found in his poems is that of cultural failures of the past standing as figures for a corrupt modern world. Referring to the title of one Logan's books, Henry Taylor remarks, "Many of the poems are meditations on historical examples of "vain empires," whether earthly, spiritual or intellectual" (28). A fierce witness of cultural decay, Logan balances irony with opulent diction and attention to the difficulties of human life.
In "Stereopticon" (1984), Logan contrasts modern photography with the stereopticon, a 19th-century device that created the illusion of solidity by projecting double images, in order to critique a shallow present. He praises a stereoptic image of an Artic expedition for showing how "the world is not flat, / but round, whole, dangerous." Logan writes not only about history but also from within it. In "Keats in India" (1998), he imagines the romantic poet John Keats surviving tuberculosis to travel to India, where he sees "a fakir strangle a man" and observes the tipping of ceremonial pots in the Ganges, which "sink into eternities of rest." As an antidote to the modern obsession with the self, Logan offers formal rigor and historical perspective.
Logan, William. "Interview." In All the Rage. Ann Arbor:
University of Michigan Press, 1998. Taylor, Henry. "Hints from Hell." New York Times Book Review (12 July 1998): 28.
Robert Temple Cone
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