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"For years we have needed a judicious selection from the poems of James Dickey, a book that would bring new readers to the best of his work. With generosity and tact, Robert Kirschten has given us that book." (David Mason)
James Dickey came to my attention through his poem "The Bee" (still a favorite) - only later did I learn he was also the author of _Deliverance_, which surprised me, although in the opposite manner for those more familar with the film than his poetry. That he is able to do both - write narratives and poetry - so well is testament to his literary prowess.
Dickey is a masculine poet. That is to say, many of his poems will undoubtedly appeal more to men than women, and many of his subjects are masculine-oriented. "Drinking From a Helmet" and "The Firebombing" tell of his experiences in World War II (no machismo here - rather the simple, sad reflections on the pointlessness of destruction, but still a clearly masculine voice), "False Youth" gives us a glimpse at Dickey in late-middle age, a little slower, clothes a little tighter. "The Bee", though, remains with me. A few lines to give you a sense of his style:
"Old wingback, come To life. If your knee action is high Enough, the fat may fall in time G - D You, Dickey *dig* this is your last time to cut And run, but you must give it everything you have Left, for screaming near your screaming child is the sheer Murder of California traffic: some bee hangs driving
Your child Blindly onto the highway. Get there however Is still possible. ..."
The frantic, heart-racing panic a parent feels for a child is communicated with an immeadiacy and clarity that forces you to relive the moment - it is a powerful poem. Would Dickey appeal to female readers? Certainly - but there is no escaping the gender in his voice.
I realize that for some "poetry" and "masculinity" may appear to be an oxymoron. I disagree.Read more ›
It's a shame that most people know James Dickey only for his novel Deliverance, if they know him at all. Dickey had already established his literary rep in the 1960's with his poetry, and this volume gives us a well-rounded selection of his best loved poems and some of his more daring experiments in his later career. Dickey hs a talent for startling, vibrant explorations of nature in all its beauty and especially its monstrosity, with the latter earning Dickey about as many detractors as fans. Though he is often considered a quintessentially "male" poet in terms of subject matter, his work also has a strong feminine current in it. Dickey is not as widely published as he should be, so I recommend that you take advantage of this opportunity to know more about Dickey than what you saw in the movie (many more people know the movie than have read the book Deliverance).
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yes, this is the same James Dickey who authored the gripping Deliverance. most of Dickey's poetry is difficult reading, some is at or beyond the limit of my comprehension. but on pages 31-32 is a simple, eloquent poetic masterpiece, The Heaven of Animals; for me this one creation justifies this purchase. Please, please, take this poem to heart.
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