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Robyn Schiff Recommends...

Writers Recommend

Posted 1.12.09

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"When I’m stuck in a poem it usually means my engagement with the subject is lacking intensity, and instead of fully entering the material, I feel like I’m at the doorway tentatively knocking in that lazy way we do when we don’t actually want to be admitted. One piece of writing that can reliably revive me from this state is the title essay in Guy Davenport’s Geography of the Imagination. In the grand finale of this short essay, Davenport looks at Grant Wood’s painting, American Gothic. But here looking is the most active, most adrenalized, most divine activity possible. With an inspired X-ray gaze that feels downright otherworldly, an uncanny reading emerges. Looking passes into seeing, and the figure of the writer is restored to that of seer. Davenport’s fans are passionate, and yet I think too few. I wish more poets would read him!"
Robyn Schiff, author of Revolver (University of Iowa Press, 2008)

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