Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Barbara Guest wrote mainly poetry, but she did publish in other genres. She wrote a number of plays, three of which were produced: The Ladies Choice (pr. 1953), The Office (pr. 1961), and Port (pr. 1965). Her only novel, Seeking Air, was published in 1978. She wrote a biography of poet H. D., Herself Defined: The Poet H. D. and Her World (1984). Guest also wrote articles and reviews for art magazines. She had a lifelong interest in visual art, which often served as the inspiration for her poems.

Barbara Guest Achievements

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Barbara Guest was the best known of the female members of the New York School of poets. She earned many honors for her poetry, including a Yaddo Fellowship (1958), the Longwood Award (1968) for The Location of Things, a Poetry Foundation Prize (1973) for Moscow Mansions, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (1978), three Fund for Poetry Awards (1978, 1994, 1996), the Lawrence J. Lipton Prize (1990) for Fair Realism, two Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prizes (1991, 1994), two San Francisco State Poetry Center Book Awards (1993) for Defensive Rapture and 2008 for The Collected Poems of Barbara Guest, two American Awards for Literature in the best poetry category (1995, 1996), the Josephine Miles Award (1996), and the Frost Medal (1999). Guest was hailed by critics and fellow poets as producing works that masterfully blended the illusion of landscape paintings, classical literature, historical context, and a sort of mysticism that incorporated yet transcended all those influential subjects. Guest also collaborated with artists to create books of poetry that included watercolors or other artwork.

Barbara Guest Bibliography

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Caples, Garrett. “Barbara Guest in the Shadow of Surrealism.” Chicago Review 53/54 (Summer, 2008): 153-161. Views Guest’s later poetry in terms of its relation to Surrealism. Examines “Hotel Comfort,” the last poem she wrote, and “The Shadow of Surrealism,” an essay collected in Forces of Imagination. Half of this issue of the Chicago Review was devoted to a tribute to Guest.

Fox, Margalit. “Barbara Guest, Eighty-five: Pioneering Poet of the New York School.” The New York Times, March 4, 2006, p. A11. Obituary of Guest examines her life and works, noting her inclusion in the New York School and her use of the visual in her poet.

Guest, Barbara. The Collected Poems of Barbara Guest. Edited by Hadley Haden Guest. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 2008. This collection, edited by Guest’s daughter, brings together Guest’s works and adds a few new poems. Includes an introduction by Peter Gizzi, brief sections of analysis, and a time line that details personal milestones and career accomplishments.

Knight, Brenda. Women of the Beat Generation: The Writers, Artists, and Muses at the Heart of a Revolution. Berkeley, Calif.: Conari Press, 1996. Contains a chapter dealing with Guest and Elise Cowen.

Nelson, Maggie. Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2007. This discussion of the New York School examines Guest’s role.

Rankine, Claudia, and Juliana Spahr, eds. American Women Poets in the Twenty-first Century: Where Lyric Meets Language. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 2002. An anthology of women poets of the twenty-first century, including Guest, with analysis by the authors of the anthology.

Ronk, Martha. “A Foreign Substance.” Chicago Review 53/54 (Summer, 2008): 109-114. Examines Guest’s use of imagery, focusing on the poem “Wild Gardens Overlooked by Night Lights” and the essay “H. D. and the Conflict of Imagism.” Ronk likens Guest’s images to foreign substances.