Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Stephen Burt

Stephen Burt's critical study, Randall Jarrell and His Age, appeared from Columbia University Press in 2002; his book of poetry, Popular Music (CLP/Colorado) in 1999. Another book of poetry, Parallel Play, was published last year by Graywolf.

I recently asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I tend to read a lot of books at once. At the moment, or in my mind:

The Full Indian Rope Trick by Colette Bryce. Fun, emotionally rich, rhyme-wielding second collection by a poet from Ireland, living in Scotland, well-thought-of there and unknown here. Reminds me at times of Merrill, at times of Richard Wilbur, at times of Lavinia Greenlaw.

Like Something Flying Backwards, the expanded UK edition of C. D. Wright's new-and-selected poems, called in the United States Steal Away (and published here last year, but there are about 20 pages of new poems in the UK version).

Place and Experience: A Philosophical Topography by J. E. Malpas. What does it mean to being, thinking, remembering and saying that we are, or speak, from one place -- Tasmania, say, where Malpas (who teaches philosophy) lives, or Boston, or Brisbane, or Lagos -- rather than from another? When I finish this book I might find out.

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman. Comic-book heroes treated realistically and with care -- a lot like Kurt Busiek's Astro City, which I admire without limit, except that Grossman's novel is not a graphic novel but a words-all-over-the-page novel novel.

Astro City by Kurt Busiek.

A Fiddle Pulled from the Throat of a Sparrow by Noah Eli Gordon. Not sure yet what I think.

The Fortunate Fall by Raphael Carter. The best science fiction novel almost nobody I know has read. In the far future, Internet-thought police protect Eurasia from mental infection, but don't know what to do with a secret whale.

The new Chicago Review on (experimental/ avant-garde) British poets.

Fulcrum: an annual of poetry and aesthetics.

One Kind of Everything by Dan Chiasson.

The Caddie Was a Reindeer by Steve Rushin. Rebecca Lobo's husband, and yes, that is a good enough reason to read it, but there are others.

Oh, and: I read everything Mechelle Voepel writes, but she doesn't have a book out yet.
Stephen Burt is Associate Professor of English at Macalester College. He reviews new poetry (and books about poetry) frequently for a variety of publications in the United States and Britain, among them the New York Times Book Review, Boston Review, Poetry Review, the Times Literary Supplement, and the Yale Review. He has also edited for publication some posthumous writings of Randall Jarrell's, including Jarrell's lectures on W. H. Auden, which is available from Columbia University Press. Burt also writes about rock music, comics, and genre fiction on occasion, or when asked.

In 2004, he wrote about Philip Larkin's poems for Slate.

Read an excerpt from Parallel Play, Burt's poems "After Callimachus" and "At the Providence Zoo," and visit Stephen Burt's personal website.

--Marshal Zeringue