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New England Review - 2004

  • Issue Number: Volume 25
  • Published Date: 2004

New England Review continues to uphold its reputation for publishing extraordinary, enduring work. Jane Hirshfield’s wise and compassionate poem “In a Room with Five People, Six Griefs” is a distillation of the overlarge experience of being human into a few simple-seeming sentences that tell our grief and fear and anger, yet leave open “A door through which time / changer of everything / can enter.” Richard Wollman’s fiercely affecting “Paper in Autumn” resurrects one family from the fire of the Holocaust. Frederick Brown offers a fascinating, at times repelling, gorgeously written account of French novelist Gustav Flaubert’s 1849 trip to Egypt—equal parts libertinism, impression gathering, and missing Mother. Especially moving is an excerpt from the selected letters of Ohio poet James Wright, who grapples with money troubles and the inexorable demon of his depression, even as he writes his lumberingly graceful, lasting poems. The letters are also of historical interest as the young Wright corresponds with the young Robert Bly, who tries to persuade Wright to turn away from formal verse and rhyme toward the unrhymed free verse that swept American poetry in the sixties, a more wrenching choice for him than one might have imagined. Wright reminds us “that poetry is a terrifyingly difficult and magnificent thing” and expresses his gladness at having cheered up a lonely, starving poet by showing up at his furnished room with “(1) two vivacious and pretty girls and (2) a large bag of fresh bananas.” As Wright puts it, “Yes, we need one another in deep, strange ways.” [New England Review, Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT 05753. E-mail: . Single issue $8.] - Ann Stapleton

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Review Posted on February 28, 2005

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