Poetry Now

Fred Chappell's A Way of Happening is a gathering of some 17 critical pieces, together with an important personal essay about teaching writing ("First Night Come Round Again") and an essay-length introduction ("Thanks But No Thanks"), published between 1985 and 1997, all but three written expressly for and published by the Georgia Review. Chappell, author of seven novels, two collections of short stories, 13 books of poems, and a book of essays. Plow Naked (not to mention his translations from classical drama and French Renaissance poetry), has earned a considerable and enviable reputation and, as well, has received significant awards including the Bollingen Prize in Poetry, the Ingersoll Foundation's T.S. Eliot Award, and the Aiken/Taylor Award from the University of the South. For more than 20 years, he has been writing book reviews and literary criticism of all kinds for a variety' of newspapers, journals, and literary magazines. This new collection, focused strictly on contemporary poetry and consisting primarily of a sequence of chronicle reviews of more than 80 books, should justly call attention to Chappell's achievements as critic, one whom we most urgently need and ought to cherish.

Truth is, the reviewing and criticism of contemporary poetry is in a sorry state. There are some notable exceptions — one thinks at once of Henry Taylor, Richard Tillinghast, Ted Kooser,...

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