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Picture Window: Poems Paperback – January 25, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"We play by ear but learn the words by heart": so explains the first of the many playfully intellectual poems in this strong 18th collection from the much-honored, Yale-based poet and critic. Hollander's considerable reputation rests in part on his wide, often whimsical array of forms, and this volume (more than its recent predecessors) excels in formal agility: blank verse, Sapphics, serial haiku and faithful adaptations from Horace's Latin wheel and spin from comic exclamations (like "pow!" and "blort!") through learned puns, philosophical disquisitions and even "grave accentuations cut in the rind of the earth." Some of the most ambitious poems here describe paintings, while others meditate more abstractly on the relations between seeing and listening, or between writing and visual art. More casual poems address, or remember, particular literary friends (some of them famous): "On a Stanza of H. Leyvick" moves "from the midcentury Village back to the New/ York of the Yiddish poets," while "From a Palace Diary" brings to new heights the poet's longstanding devotion to cats. Recalling both Wallace Stevens and W.H. Auden, Hollander (Tesserae, etc.) combines a reader-friendly alertness with intellectual sophistication; his poems try "to make words be themselves," "to/ Make pictures puzzles of what they're about," and in doing so develop an instantly recognizable take on "the mind's/ Complicating, fragile reflectiveness."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

In his eighteenth collection--in one cleverly constructed and philosophically agile poem after another, some classical in their tropes, others biblical, others echoing Milton, Coleridge, and Stevens--Hollander ponders our habits of perception and our perpetual self-infatuation. In the finely wrought title poem, for instance, one man watches another stand before a plateglass window framing a glorious mountain vista and realizes that the window-gazer is looking not at the landscape but at his own reflection. The poet himself is utterly enthralled by humankind's most alluring invention, language, distracted from contemplating life itself by the complex vibrations of even the humblest of words. Just as our thoughts are inextricably wed to language, he suggests, our vision is cued to the order of art rather than the chanciness of nature. In intricate, mosaiclike poems, Hollander addresses an Edward Hopper painting, the evocations of columns and timepieces, and the piquant nuances of common figures of speech, all the while parsing our impulse to try to make some kind of sense out of everything that comes our way. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (January 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375710132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375710131
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,278,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gary Sprandel on July 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
These poems are in various style, and for me some work well and others are perhaps too academic, or with too many literary allusions that I missed.
The poems that that work for me are direct with contrasting phrases, like the opening poem "By Heart": "The gossip of swallows, the faint radioed / Reed section of a dance band through an open Window down at the far end of the street". Or "From a Palace Diary"
"My grandfather the wise kind was told by an informed bird -- / A prophetic hoopie ... "The ones that don't work for me, Like Horace Ode II.14, seem intent on loading up with references ... :we have to watch meandering Cocytus and Danaus famous bunch of daughters". Perhaps the poem that works best at combining directness, slightly askew references, and some literary references was "Where it comes from" , with "Searching ever the sources of all the sources,"... and "Any one of our private springs / May be numbered among the most noble fountains / Like one sung of by Horace ... ".
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Format: Kindle Edition
Hollander can work in diverse styles and forms, and this book does illustrate that clearly. Hollander tends to sometimes mirror a modernist formalism akin to that of Frost, but in other times favors image driven free verse. His diction and syntax are generally very clear, and perhaps almost too straight-forward, but he does often require some patience for allusions. Some my find his rhyme schemes a bit heavy, and some more attracted to more experimental poetry may find Hollander's workman-like craft a little style, but his poems are finely wrought and generally excellent.
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