Jonathan Williams Edward F. Grier - Essay

Edward F. Grier

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The Colonel is an adventurous experimenter. I confess to a prejudice against cut-ups, found poems, and concrete poetry, but the Colonel does them splendidly. See "A Mnemonic Wallpaper Pattern for Southern Two Seaters" or "A Chorale of Cherokee Night Music as Heard Through an Open Window Long Ago." Both lose by reduction to book-size format, and "A Chorale" also loses from the lack of its original color, but once they have been seen they are not forgotten.

He is also an ecologist before the letter. He is not, of course, concerned in his poetry about recycling or biodegradability, but with what is there. He knows his home terrain, the Appalachians, intimately, its contours, its flora and fauna, and its people. Although he has never really understood the Great Plains, which still await their poet, nor concerned himself with the Rockies, he has a most unusual sensibility to landscape, whether it is in Appalachia, Wales, or Yorkshire, where there are mountains or at least full-sized hills.

I have never understood the occasional complaint that his poetry is bookish. Of course it is, but bookishness is a hallmark of contemporary poetry. There are fashions in bookishness, however, and the Colonel's books are not modish. No Zen, no Tantrism, no Tarot, no astrology, no politics. Blake is recognizable, but not Samuel Palmer…. Among nature writers, although he knows Thoreau's Journals well he does not seem to be interested in...

(The entire section is 564 words.)