Antarctic Traveller (Magill's Literary Annual 1983)
In 1982, Alfred A. Knopf published the sixth and seventh volumes in their new poetry series. These volumes turned out to be the most successful first collections to have appeared in many years. Antarctic Traveller is number seven in the series; number six, Brad Leithauser’s Hundreds of Fireflies (1982), is reviewed elsewhere in this volume. Both collections were nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Antarctic Traveller received the award.
Katha Pollitt is acquainted with the techniques of traditional metrics and works within them when subject, occasion, or mood demands; she is perhaps more at home in the kind of open form or free verse which has itself become nearly traditional. It is a kind of free verse in which appreciation for line-breaks must be purely a visual experience, unavailable to one who only hears the poems; it seems designed to encourage matters of line and stanza to withdraw into the background, so that imagination and word choice, for example, may come to the fore. Most of the time, this approach works well for Pollitt, but it poses a few problems. One problem is that the strongly metrical poems in this book tend to be the best, so that one wonders whether metrical writing is the most effective way Pollitt has of forcing herself to pay prolonged attention to each line of a poem. This impression is borne out by the realization that the handful of underachieved poems, those that went in to...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1983)
Georgia Review. XXXVI, Summer, 1982, p. 438.
Library Journal. CVII, January 1, 1982, p. 96.
Ms. XI, September, 1982, p. 94.
Nation. CCXXXIV, March 20, 1982, p. 342.
The New Republic. CLXXXVI, April 14, 1982, p. 37.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXVII, March 14, 1982, p. 17.
Poetry. CXLI, December, 1982, p. 170.
Virginia Quarterly Review. LVIII, Summer, 1982, p. 92.
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