Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Though Yvor Winters believed his poetry to be his principal work, he was, during his lifetime, better known as a critic. His criticism was virtually coextensive with his poetry, the first published essays appearing in 1922 and the last volume in 1967. Controversial because of its wide-ranging and detailed revaluations of both major and minor writers in American, British, and French literature, the criticism indirectly but indisputably illuminates his own work as poet by suggesting explanations for the changes it underwent, for the main styles he attempted, and even for details in individual poems.

His single short story, “The Brink of Darkness”(1932, 1947), is autobiographical. Its setting (the southwestern United States) and subject matter (hypersensitivity in isolation, the advent of death, psychological obsession to the brink of madness, the recovery of identity) are those of many poems, especially early ones, in the Winters canon.