Other literary forms (Critical Survey of Poetry: American Poets)
Though known primarily for his poetry, Howard Nemerov (NEHM-eh-rawf) wrote novels—The Melodramatists (1949), Federigo: Or, The Power of Love (1954), and The Homecoming Game (1957)—and short stories, collected in A Commodity of Dreams, and Other Stories (1959) and Stories, Fables, and Other Diversions (1971). Two verse dramas, Endor and Cain, are included with his collection The Next Room of the Dream. His criticism and reflections on the making of poetry are to be found in various volumes: Poetry and Fiction: Essays (1963), Reflexions on Poetry and Poetics (1972), Figures of Thought: Speculations on the Meaning of Poetry, and Other Essays (1978), New and Selected Essays (1985), and The Oak in the Acorn: On “Remembrance of Things Past” and on Teaching Proust, Who Will Never Learn (1987). Journal of the Fictive Life (1965) is a series of candid autobiographical meditations.
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Achievements (Critical Survey of Poetry: American Poets)
As a poet, novelist, critic, and teacher, Howard Nemerov was a man of letters in the eighteenth century tradition. He was identified with no particular school of poetry. Scholar Peter Meinke says that Nemerov’s work explores the dilemma of “the existential, science-oriented (or science-displaced) liberal mind of the twentieth century.”
Almost every available award came to Nemerov; his honors included the Bowdoin Prize from Harvard University (1940), a Kenyon Review Fellowship in Fiction (1955), a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award (1961), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1968-1969), the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize (1968) for The Blue Swallows, an Academy of American Poets Fellowship (1970), the Levinson Prize from Poetry magazine (1975), the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award (both 1978), the Bollingen Prize from Yale University (1981), the Aiken Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry (1987), and the presidential National Medal of Art (1987). He served as a consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress from 1963 to 1964 and again as poet laureate consultant in poetry from 1988 to 1990. The National Institute of Arts and Letters (1960-1991), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Alpha of Massachusetts all claimed him as a member. He served as chancellor for the Academy of American Poets from...
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Bibliography (Critical Survey of Poetry: American Poets)
Bartholomay, Julia A. The Shield of Perseus: The Vision and Imagination of Howard Nemerov. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1972. Discusses Nemerov’s poetic techniques and recurrent themes. Provides detailed information about the poet drawn from his letters and conversations. An excellent source.
Burris, Sidney. “A Sort of Memoir, a Sort of Review.” Southern Review 28 (Winter, 1992): 184-201. Burris presents a memoir of Nemerov as well as critiques of A Howard Nemerov Reader and Trying Conclusions.
Kinzie, Mary. “The Signature of Things: On Howard Nemerov.” In The Cure of Poetry in an Age of Prose: Moral Essays on the Poet’s Calling. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. Examines the body of Nemerov’s work.
Knock, Stanley F., Jr. “Renewal of Illusion.” Christian Century, January 16, 1962, 85-86. In this review of Nemerov’s verse drama Endor, Knock shows how Nemerov transports an Old Testament story into the context of existentialism and the Cold War. Rather than “see ourselves as others see us,” as poet Robert Burns advised, Nemerov finds hope not in the stripping of illusion, but in its renewal.
Labrie, Ross. Howard Nemerov. Boston: Twayne, 1980. A standard biography in Twayne’s United States Authors...
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