John Hollander

(b. 1929)

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New York City-born poet, received his A.B. from Columbia and Ph.D. from Indiana University and since 1959 has been a member of Yale's faculty, except 1966–77, when he was at Hunter College. A Crackling of Thorns (1958), sophisticated poems, was selected by Auden for the Yale Younger Poets Award, and Auden has been an influence on him, along with the metaphysicals and the tradition of English song represented by Campion and Jonson. Hollander is himself an accomplished musician and wrote the scholarly study The Untuning of the Sky: Ideas of Music in English Poetry, 1500–1700 (1961). These two earliest books were followed by Movie-Going (1962) and Visions from the Ramble (1965), poems whose inspirations came from his native city's Broadway and Central Park. His next book, Types of Shape (1968), further displayed his virtuosity through its shaped poems reminiscent of Quarles and Herbert. The Night Mirror (1971), Town and Country Matters: Erotica and Satirica (1972), and The Head of the Bed (1973) are further collections showing his remarkable variety, ranging from the philosophic to the sprightly, as well as his command of accented syllabic versification, which in Tales Told of the Father (1975) became purely syllabic. Reflections on Espionage (1976) contains his witty poetic commentary on contemporary poets and his own concepts of poetry. Spectral Emanations (1978) contains selected poems; Jiggery-Pokery (1967) is a collection of double-dactylic poems created with Anthony Hecht; and Powers of Thirteen (1983), the poet's 13th collection, contains 169 (13 × 13) poems of 13 lines, each containing 13 syllables. Various Owls (1963) contains nonsense poems for children; and The Quest of the Gole (1966) is a mock-epic written for young people. Other works include a masque, An Entertainment for Elizabeth (1972), and critical works: Images of Voice (1969), The Figure of Echo (1981), and Rhyme's Reason (1981), a guide to English verse forms, illustrated by Hollander's own witty examples.

Subjects: Literature.

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