Other literary forms
Louis Simpson’s contributions to criticism and literary analysis include The New Poets of England and America (1957; edited with Donald Hall and Robert Pack) and James Hogg: A Critical Study (1962). These two studies pointed the direction poetry, especially Simpson’s own, was to take in subsequent years. Simpson wrote several other works of literary criticism in following years, including Three on the Tower: The Lives and Works of Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, and William Carlos Williams in 1975. Another volume of criticism, A Revolution in Taste: Studies of Dylan Thomas, Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath, and Robert Lowell, appeared in 1978. This work was followed by two other volumes, A Company of Poets (1981) and The Character of the Poet (1986), which expanded and defined Simpson’s literary tastes, principles, and objectives. Prolific into the 1990’s, Simpson published more literary studies in Ships Going into the Blue: Essays and Notes on Poetry in 1994.
Simpson’s only novel, Riverside Drive (1962), won critical respect but convinced him that his talent was better suited to poetry, although his reputation as a literary critic brought him much respect in later years. North of Jamaica (1972) is a prose account of his childhood in Jamaica, his wartime experiences, and his teaching career at Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley. This autobiography introduces the reader to Simpson’s ideas on poetry as he saw it being practiced and as he thought it should be written. The book shows how much of Simpson’s poetry derives from his own life and how seamlessly the two are joined. The autobiographical account is continued in The King My Father’s Wreck (1995).