New and classic essays by one of America's most distinguished contemporary poet-critics, "The Work of Poetry" surveys an extraordinary range of poets, from Dante to May Swenson, and George Meredith to Marianne Moore, as well as works from the Psalms to "A Child's Garden of Verses." By turns generous and uncompromising, Hollander champions the enduring force of poetry against the incursion of fashionable writing. This is an elegant, uncompromising affirmation of the extraordinary powers of poetic imagination from a poet whose poems have been hailed by J.D. McClatchy as "ways of thinking on paper."
Densely allusive, richly autobiographical, digressively informative, and crowned by brilliant close readings that are Hollander's particular genius, these essays provide a crash course in poetry: what it has been, what it is, what it gives us when it is good, how poems work, what makes a poem masterful. -- Daria Donnelly Commonweal This book shows Hollander at his best... Hollander... displays in these essays an acute sensitivity to the special ways poetic language is organized and the manner in which such organization influences perceptions of reality. This kind of sensitivity enables the reader to share something of that attitude to language that, according to Hollander, characterizes the poet. Poetics Today These essays are more engrossing and rewarding, for me, than the readings of particular poets which close the volume. -- Paul Dean English Studies For me the great pleasure of Hollander's book lies in his discussion of specific poems. -- Ian Tromp PN Review A critical response to poetry and, therefore, an exacting reading experience, but the rewards are diverse, as is the bounty. Library Journal Scholars interested in Hollander will welcome this book as the celebration of a long and accomplished career. Choice For every intelligent reader with a passion for poetry. -- Frank Kermode In some two dozen essays, the distinguished poet and Yale English professor Hollander explores poetry's 'pecularities, strangeness, ambiguities.'... Hollander's criticism is rigorous, idiosyncratic, and often bracingly contrarian, the product of an acute poetic imagination and intelligence. Publishers Weekly