Weiss, Theodore (Vol. 14)
Weiss, Theodore 1916–
Weiss is an American poet, critic, and editor. In opposition to the current popularity of the loose confessional style of poetry, Weiss has primarily written long, carefully constructed narrative poems. He is most noted for his "Gunsight," a narrative poem described by some critics as the best long poem since William Carlos Williams's "Paterson." (See also CLC, Vols. 3, 8, and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 9-12, rev. ed.)
[Weiss's long poems should alert us] to the narrowness of range of many of the short poems of our time. Weiss's own shorter poems (very few of them under thirty lines) have always presented an uncommon combination of dense texture and subtle, sometimes elusive, substance. The texture of these poems often turns out to be the substance, and the time-bound experience of reading his poems is, more than with most poets, the apprehension of a meaning which can rarely be ordered into structural, spatial schemas after it has impressed itself on the reader. The poems are of a supremely articulate emotional and perceptual progress.
Technically, Weiss's work began in The Catch as a manipulation of...
(The entire section is 1954 words.)
[Views & Spectacles] should serve to introduce new English readers to an urbane, spikily intelligent writer for whom the making of poetry is a delighted idiosyncratic conversation shaped around parentheses, hesitations and qualifications, breaking out at intervals into sheer affirmation. Often seeming a little awkward (even wilfully mannered) at first reading, these are poems which demand careful attention until their voice is assimilated and the necessary balance of mind achieved in one's response. Not that they are obscure but, both in their syntax and in a habit of shooting off at ruminative tangents from what appears to be a direct narrative line, they are surprising and often refreshingly...
(The entire section is 439 words.)
Theodore Weiss' poetry is among the most demanding (which is not necessarily to say obscure) currently being written, not because it is erudite, far-ranging, uncompromising, and oblique, as it certainly is, but by virtue of the poet's modus operandi of reconciling fragments through the fashioning of multi-faceted wholes. His rich thematic diversity, various but specific characterization (for his work abounds in real people), and accelerated interplay between objects and notions, all combine to keep the reader in an intensely mobile state, as befits a poetry of the "demeanors of the mind."
Although I propose to indicate a number of Weiss' recurrent motifs, one, fragmentation, must be mentioned...
(The entire section is 2678 words.)