We Begin in Gladness: How Poets Progress; Essays

Graywolf. 2018. 176p. ISBN 9781555978211. pap. $16. LIT
OrangeReviewStarPoet, critic, and teacher Teicher writes about how poetry in general, as well as specific poets ranging from W.S. Merwin and Lucille Clifton to Brenda Hillman, evolves over time. For Teicher, poetry, or the act of making a poem, is part of a continuous conversation. In his analysis, he shows whom the poet might be speaking to in a work, ultimately declaring that the author is constantly trying to reach that highest level of writing, a plateau in which a masterpiece is conceived and able to communicate the exact message the poet wishes to convey. Attaining this level of mastery, according to Teicher, speaks to the peak of a poem or a poet's career, a process in which the author is most interested.
VERDICT Highly recommended for lovers of reading and thoughtful critiques of 20th- and 21-century poetry.
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