Carl Rakosi came to public attention fairly late. Between 1939 and 1965, he wrote no poetry. A young English poet who was doing research at the State University of New York at Buffalo contacted him and asked about his post-1941 work; it was this query that spurred him to begin writing once more. His Selected Poems, published by New Directions in 1941, had received little notice, but the growing audience for poetry in the 1960’s welcomed Amulet, his second New Directions book. Since that time, New Directions, Black Sparrow Press, and the National Poetry Foundation at the University of Maine have kept his writing in print, and it has continued to spark the interest of critics and a new generation of poets and readers.
Rakosi won the National Endowment for the Arts award in 1969 and fellowships from the same institution in 1972 and 1979. He also won a Distinguished Service award from the National Poetry Association in 1988, and the PEN Center USA West Poetry Award for Poems, 1923-1941 in 1996. He was the honored guest at the International Objectivist Conference in France in 1990. His manuscripts and letters are split between the holdings of the University of Wisconsin in Madison and the Widener Library at Harvard.
Bromige, David, et al. “The Royaumont Conference.” Poetry Flash, November, 1989-June, 1990. An account of the September, 1989, conference on the Objectivists held near Paris, with American and French poets as panelists and Rakosi, the only surviving Objectivist poet, as featured speaker. Bromige’s November, 1989, article discusses some of the conference’s salient issues; the matter of opacity in the poem stirred up controversy continued in letters and articles from January through June, 1990. Rakosi contributed a revealing letter.
“Carl Rakosi, One Hundred, a Poet Who Influenced Others.” The New York Times, July 12, 2004, p. B8. This obituary describes Rakosi’s poetry as “honest and direct, with a dose of irony.”
Codrescu, Andrei. “Carl Rakosi: A Warm, Steady Presence.” Baltimore Sun, April 1, 1984. Discusses Rakosi’s humanism.
Heller, Michael D. Conviction’s Net of Branches. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1985. Discusses the Objectivist movement and examines Rakosi’s varying styles.
_______. “Heaven and the Modern World.” The New York Times Book Review, March 8, 1987. Discusses Rakosi’s responses to the contemporary world.
_______, ed. Carl Rakosi: Man and Poet. Orono: National Poetry Foundation, University of Maine, 1993. Offers criticism and interpretation of Rakosi’s work. Bibliography and index included.
Perloff, Marjorie. “Looking for the Real Carl Rakosi: Collected and Selecteds.” Journal of American Studies 30 (August, 1996): 271-283. Perloff reviews Poems, 1923-1941 and The Collected Poems of Carl Rakosi, as well as Carl Rakosi: Man and Poet, edited by Michael D. Heller.
Rakosi, Carl. The Collected Prose of Carl Rakosi. Edited by Burton Hatlen. Orono: National Poetry Foundation, University of Maine, 1983. These pieces shed much light on Rakosi’s poetry. Hatlen supplies an afterword, “Carl Rakosi and the Re-invention of the Epigram,” which touches also on other aspects of Rakosi’s writing, beginning with a general survey of the work in its historical setting.
_______. Interview by Tom Devaney and Oliver Brossard. American Poetry Review 32, no. 4 (July/August, 2003): 20. Rakosi talks about his love of writing and music and about the influence of Wallace Stevens and the Objectivists on his writing.