Poems Seven

Poems Seven : New and Complete Poetry

By (author) Alan Dugan


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Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry, the winner of the National Book Award, presents the life work of a giant of American letters, tracks a forty-year career of honest, tough artistry, and shows a man at nearly 80 years of age and still at the height of his poetic power. Dugan's new poems continue his career-long concerns with renewed vigor: the poet's insistence that art is a grounded practice threatened by pretension, the wry wit, the jibes at the academic and sententious, and the arresting observations on the quotidian battles of life. All the while he peppers his poems with humorous images of the grim and daunting topics of existential emptiness.

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  • Paperback | 448 pages
  • 137.16 x 228.6 x 30.48mm | 408.23g
  • 01 Jul 2003
  • Seven Stories Press,U.S.
  • New York
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 1583225129
  • 9781583225127
  • 1,934,633

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Author Information

ALAN DUGAN’s first book, Poems, won the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize. Dugan has won the National Book Award (twice), the Pulitzer Prize, the Prix de Rome, and an award in literature from the American Academy and the Institute of Arts and Letters. He has been a fellow of the American Academy in Rome, the recipient of two Guggenheim Foundation fellowships, and a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. He died in 2003.

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Review text

This capacious volume brings together 40 years of output from one of America's foremost poets, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Prix de Rome and, confirming the consistent quality of his work over the period, the American National Book Awards for his first collection in 1962 and again for the present collection. Dugan pares human experience back to its bare essentials, our longing for the warmth and light of summer and day, our dread of the cold and dark of night and winter. It is with stunning and original imagery that he describes the weather patterns which shape the structure of our lives: 'The first cold front came in/whining like a carpenter's plane/and curled the warm air/up the sky.' He is nothing if not hard-hitting as he explores the harsh realities of life and death, never seeking, as the foreword explains, to escape those realities or to construct an alternative world, but determined rather to 'walk out bravely into the daily accident'. There is no sense of death providing a longed-for release from the trials of daily life; rather, as his many poems about military campaigns and hospital visits demonstrate, it is a painful, degrading and clinical way to exit the world. His work also displays an obsession with that most basic and fundamental of all human instincts, sex, the poems peppered as they are with explicit, sometimes disturbing references to the act itself as well as numerous images of genitalia couched in what is often somewhat coyly referred to as 'strong language'. Indeed, one has a sense throughout the collection of Dugan's own battle to 'try to be sober and respectable' as he returns time and again to themes of 'inappropriate' sexual desire, drunkenness and society's expectation that one should work for a living. This expansive volume displays the multiplicity of form which Dugan has adopted over the years, some poems no more than a few lines long, others much longer, some lyrical and elegiac, others positively prosaic, drawing as they do on everything from the tales of classical myth to the mundane experience of an advertising executive. (Kirkus UK)

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