The Great Fires: Poems, 1982-1992

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A.A. Knopf, 1994 - Poetry - 90 pages
JOYCE'S MOTTO has had much fame but few apostles. Among them, there has been Jack Gilbert and his orthodoxy, a strictness that has required of this poet, now in the seventh decade of his severe life, the penalty of his having had almost no fame at all. In an era that puts before the artist so many sleek and official temptations, keeping unflinchingly to a code of "silence, exile, and cunning" could not have been managed without a show of strictness well beyond the reach of the theater of the coy.
The "far, stubborn, disastrous" course of Jack Gilbert's resolute journey--not one that would promise in time to bring him home to the consolations of Penelope and the comforts of Ithaca but one that would instead take him ever outward to the impossible blankness of the desert--could never have been achieved in the society of others. What has kept this great poet brave has been the difficult company of his poems--and now we have, in Gilbert's third and most silent book, what may be, what must be, the bravest of these imperial accomplishments.

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About the author (1994)

Jack Gilbert was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on February 17, 1925. He received a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh in 1954 and a master's from San Francisco State in 1963. He also attended Jack Spicer's Magic Poetry Workshop. His first collection of poetry, Views of Jeopardy, won the 1961 Yale Younger Poets Prize and was published in 1962. His other works include Monolithos, which won the Stanley Kunitz Prize and the American Poetry Review Prize; The Dance Most of All; Transgressions: Selected Poems; Refusing Heaven, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award; and The Great Fires: Poems 1982-1992. He died after developing pneumonia on November 13, 2012 at the age of 87.

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