This book restores to print two important verse-essays on the art of poetry by one of America's most honored poets. "Trial of a Poet" was born of Karl Shapiro's serving on the jury that awarded the first Bollingen Prize in Poetry, voting on moral grounds against giving the prize to the winner, Ezra Pound. "Essay on Rime" confronts the confusions Shapiro found in poetry in general and in the work of many specific, noted poets.
Shapiro wrote this 2072-line blank-verse meditation on "the treble confusion / In modern rime" in 1945, when he was thirty and serving a stint with the U.S. Army in the South Pacific--far from any library. Rich in both insight and example, "Essay on Rime" discusses a range of subjects, including prosody, idiom, Freud, rhetoric, grammar, Marxist poets, content, and translation. "Essay on Rime" also confronts the particular approaches of such poets as W. H. Auden, Hart Crane, e. e. cummings, Archibald MacLeish, Andrew Marvell, Pound, Walt Whitman, and W. B. Yeats. As David Lehman writes in his foreword, "More than a half century since it was written, this triumph of rhetoric retains its ability to provoke, instruct, and astound."
Karl Shapiro (1913-2000) was a prolific poet, critic, essayist, editor of literary journals, and teacher.
Robert Phillips is John and Rebecca Moores Scholar and Professor of English, University of Houston.