Other literary forms
The career of John Ciardi (CHAHR-dee) as a poet both generated and nourished his other remarkably varied and prolific literary activities, particularly his influential work as a teacher, critic, and author of two popular textbooks, How Does a Poem Mean? (1959) and Poetry: A Closer Look (1963). Ciardi served as an often controversial poetry editor of the Saturday Review (originally the Saturday Review of Literature) from 1956 to 1977. There he was responsible for selecting the verse that would be published in the magazine, as well as writing highly subjective columns covering a broad range of aesthetic subjects. Several volumes of his selected essays appeared, including Dialogue with an Audience (1963), Manner of Speaking (1972), and Ciardi Himself: Fifteen Essays in the Reading, Writing, and Teaching of Poetry (1989). The titles themselves suggest Ciardi’s awareness of the vital role of the reader (or “audience”) with whom the artist must communicate and his delight in the power and versatility of words. The Selected Letters of John Ciardi was published in 1991.
Ciardi’s work as a translator of Dante’s La divina commedia (c. 1320; The Divine Comedy, 1802) was closely related to his recognition as a poet, for he chose to present all three sections of the classic work in his characteristically forceful, idiomatic American verse, professing to offer not...
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