Dec 22, 2008

What I Hope to Work On - Part 1

I said I would review what I have on my list of recent or somewhat recent writings on Yvor Winters that I would like to discuss on this blog. I hope my readers will write me about any other articles, essays, or books that they know of not listed here. This and the next post concern writings that are directly concerned with the poetry or criticism of Winters. In my third post, I will list a dozen writings or so that are somehow closely related to Winters’s work. ANYONE with ANY comments on these writings is welcome to post on this blog -- without my gloss (though I will almost certainly comment on anything posted).


Recent Essays on Winters:

1. In 2006, James Matthew Wilson published an essay on Emily Dickinson and Yvor Winters’s essay on her poetry. Wilson’s piece appeared in Christianity and Literature. I have been studying this dense essay and believe it deserves thoughtful consideration, which is the reason I haven’t yet discussed it.

Wilson, by the way, has become a columnist on American conservatism. He has been writing a regular column for the First Principles web site entitled “The Treasonous Clerk.” Though I am not a political conservative in most ways (as Yvor Winters, I pause to note, was not either), Wilson has already had some worthwhile things to say in his column. I believe his work bears watching.

2. In 2005, a professor by the name of David Reid published an essay, “Rationality in the Poetry of Yvor Winters,” in the Cambridge Quarterly. It was an insightful overview of some of Winters’s poetry and the idea that Winters’s commitment to reason met an intellectual and psychological need. The essay deserves careful study.

3. Going back even further, actually more than five years, to the annual poetry issue of the 2003 New Criterion, Adam Kirsch published a piece entitled “Winters’ Curse.” I have been planning for a long time to get to that one.

4. In 2001, Wesley Trimpi, poet, critic, and former student of Winters, published a piece on Winters and classicism in the International Journal of the Classical Tradition. The piece was entitled “Yvor Winters and the Educated Sensibility in Antiquity.” It is about the importance of Aristotle in Winters’s criticism and is deserving of careful study and discussion.

5. I want to discuss various introductions to Winters’s writings, such as to the Swallow Press’s edition of Winters’s Selected Poems (edited by Robert Barth). The erudite introduction to that volume was written by poet Helen Pinkerton, a superb (if not great) poet and a fine critical stylist.

6. Another introduction I have wanted to discuss is Thom Gunn’s brief one to the small Library of America volume of Winters’s selected poetry.

7. Going further back, another introduction that I think needs a look is Ken Fields’s to the most recent edition of Winters’s In Defense of Reason (1995 or so). I found his introduction to be puzzlingly weak. I need to explain why I think so. My guess is that Fields is no longer much of a Wintersian.

8. A fellow who has written of Winters on a blog entitled “God of the Machine” also has written on Wikipedia about Winters’s theories of the Renaissance plain style. Aaron Haspel is his name. I would like to discuss his take on the matter.

9. Haspel also has written on his blog about his views on Winters’s theories on scanning free verse. Haspel has written that he thinks his own theory of free verse scansion is stronger than Winters’s. By the way, Haspel has suspended “God of the Machine” for more than a year now. I hope he gets recharged and starts writing again -- and writing about Winters too.

10. Finally, Haspel wrote a piece entitled “Winters’ Discontents” at “God of the Machine.” It is an overview of Winters for web searchers, and it’s another of Haspel’s writings I would like to take a look at.


I have a dozen more writings directly concerned with Winters coming in my next post. That post will be followed by another concerning writings indirectly related to Winters.

1 comment:

Capt. Donald Kilpela Sr. said...

Have you considered writing some sort of profile or commemoration of Winters for "The New Yorker?" All you need is a hook.