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Engaging essays that explore poetry's relationship to life and to other forms of literature


Poet, scholar, teacher, editor, and critic John Hollander has been a colossal presence in the American literary community for several decades. He is known for his mastery of prosody as well as for the wit, nuance, and charm of his poetry. Filled with literary, philosophical, and religious allusions, his work has been compared to the neoclassical writers of the seventeenth century. A difficult and rewarding poet, Hollander challenges his readers to bring everything they possess to the reading of each poem, as he does to the writing of them.
In The Poetry of Everyday Life, Hollander grapples with issues of poetry and the imagination. In a series of aphorisms, The book's title essay distinguishes between poetry's relations to the rest of life and other kinds of literature that merely deal literally with it. The essay introduces a range of other prose writing, from poetic fictions in prose (which Hollander calls "enigmatic narratives") to literary essays and memoirs of poets such as W. H. Auden, James Merrill, and Anthony Hecht. There are observations on the eternal problem of verse translation, as well as an interview with Langdon Hammer. Unburdened by theoretical agendas, both the short fables and the critical essays in this volume concern various aspects of the ways in which poetry can engage life most strongly when it most deeply regards itself.
John Hollander is the author of numerous books of poetry, including Types of Shape, Harp Lake, and In Time and Place, and criticism, including The Work of Poetry and The Gazer's Spirit. He is Sterling Professor of English, Yale University.