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Buckdancer's Choice: Poems (Wesleyan Poetry Series) [Paperback]

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Item description for Buckdancer's Choice: Poems (Wesleyan Poetry Series) by James Dickey...

More than two hundred poems, including Buckdancer's Choice, The Eagle's Mile, and previously unpublished "apprentice" works, document the development of a major literary figure who has greatly influenced a younger generation of poets.

Publishers Description
Whoever looks to a new book by James Dickey for further work in an established mode, or for mere novelty, is going to be disappointed. But those who seek instead a true widening of the horizons of meaning, coupled with a sure-handed mastery of the craft of poetry, will find this latest collection satisfying indeed.

Here is a man who matches superb gifts with a truly subtle imagination, into whose depths he is courageously traveling--pioneering--in exploratory penetrations into areas of life that are too often evaded or denied. "The Firebombing," "Slave Quarters," "The Fiend"--these poems, with the others that comprise the present volume, show a mature and original poet at his finest.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wesleyan University Press
Pages   79
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 6.25" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.25 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 31, 1965
Publisher   Wesleyan University Press
ISBN  0819510289  
ISBN13  9780819510280  

Availability  0 units.

More About James Dickey

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! James Dickey (1923-1997) is one of the great American poets of the twentieth century. After working in the advertising industry and teaching at several colleges and universities, Dickey received a National Book Award for Buckdancer's Choice in 1966 and served as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress, a position that later became poet laureate, from 1966 to 1968. He then joined the University of South Carolina English faculty and served as poet in residence until his death. He became a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1972 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1987.

James Dickey currently resides in the state of South Carolina.

James Dickey has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Anthologies
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Buckdancer's Choice: Poems (Wesleyan Poetry Series)?

Dickey's best.  Aug 4, 2003
James Dickey, Buckdancer's Choice (Wesleyan, 1965)

Buckdancer's Choice, Dickey's fourth book, should have been the one that catapulted him into the national spotlight. (That didn't happen for another five years, until he released his first novel: Deliverance.) Buckdancer's Choice won Dickey the 1965 National Book Award for poetry, as well as getting him named consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress. But, as is usually the way with these things, in the wider world, Dickey remained just as obscure as ever for another half-decade.

There are few nits that can be picked with a book full of stuff as powerful as James Dickey's. Two of the best poems he wrote in his long and illustrious career, "The Fire-Bombing" and "The Fiend," both found their first homes in this slim volume. Both are in the style Dickey invented, presumably nameless, which plays with line breaks by putting them in the middles of lines. (Yes, folks, I know these are called caesurae, but they're not regular, like one would find in Old English poetry; think of it more as a form of Gerard Manley Hopkins' sprung rhythm applied to free verse.) The effect is to get the reader to pause more often than normal, and thus to force the reader to emphasize images in his reflections on the poem than he otherwise normally would:

"He descends.....a medium-sized shadow.....while that one sleeps and turns
In her high bed in he goes limb by limb.....quietly down
The trunk with one lighted side...."

("The Fiend")

Coupled with these are, of course, poems written in a more "regular" style, equally as powerful, combining enchantment and revulsion. It was said in Victorian times that the mark of British gentility was to have a copy of one of Tennyson's works prominently displayed in one's home. Were America to value poetry that much, there is little doubt Buckdancer's Choice would be on the short list of books that would mark American gentility in a similar way, or at least a certain type of American gentility. Some of the best American poetry written since (or, perhaps, since long before) World War II. **** ½

No wonder modern readers don't read poetry  Dec 11, 1999
Am I the only poetry lover who thinks that James Dickey is tremendously overrated as a poet? I realize that the standards for judging greatness in poetry are vague and complicated by the lack of any generally agreed upon poetic theory in our day and age, but some poets seem to emerge - either buoyed up by developing a loyal following of readers or held up by academic attention. I have to believe that Dickey is one of those whose prominence was based on academic attention - for whatever reason - and not on on a real readership. I have never known anyone who read poetry to voluntarily turn to Dickey's work when they needed a poetry fix. His poems seem selfconscious, too aware of their images, too quick to use a word because of some association that the average reader could not possibly know. To me, they always seemed in bad faith, as if the 'poet' had developed a personal checklist of what he should include in each of his poems and how he would go about being 'poetic'. Most important, I feel that these poems are bloodless. I don't sense real passion in them.

I can spend pleasant time with Wallace Stevens and with Russell Edson, two poets as different from one another as can be, even when I have no idea what they are saying - because I at least always have the sense they are trying to say something important. With Dickey, I frequently have no idea what he is saying and worse, feel that he doesn't either, beyond the message, 'see, I've written a poem.'


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