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James Agee: Selected Poems (American Poets Project) Hardcover – October 2, 2008
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Like so many great stylists, film critic, novelist, and journalist Agee (1909–55) wrote poetry first. Editor Hudgins, whose own poetry is oriented by Christianity, calls Agee “an instinctive believer” who brought his upbringing as “a thoroughly well-churched boy” to his first and, in his lifetime, only collection, Permit Me Voyage (1934). In the passionate and political “Dedication,” Christ leads an exceedingly long roster of named and unnamed dedicatees (though after God, cited in the prose poem’s full title). The 25-sonnet sequence at the volume’s heart opens with Adam, “Tempted, and fallen, and his doom made sure”; the poems’ recurrent subject is love—indeed, love affairs—and the theme of original sin throbs like a bass line throughout. Sex remained a primary concern of Agee’s poetry, usually bonded to a religious sensibility, always to a moral one. Whether immediately religious or not, his poetry is fundamentally gorgeous, informed by Donne, Marvell, the King James Bible, and the balladry of his native Cumberland Mountains. No one writes much like this anymore. Too bad, for it’s rich and marvelous. --Ray Olson
About the Author
Andrew Hudgins has published eight books of poetry and two collections of essays. He currently teaches at Ohio State University and lives in Columbus, Ohio.
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