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Reviews 159 We all have our faults. Mine is trying to write poems. New scenery, someone 1like, anything sets me off! I hear my own voice going on, like a god or an oracle, That cello-tone, intuition. That bell-note of wisdom. When I go to the zoo, the primates and I, in communion, Hoot at each other, or signal with earthy gestures. We must move further out of town, we musical birds and animals, Or they’ll lock us up like the apes, and control us forever. Equally at ease as Roman Matron or Oriental Courtesan, Carolyn Kizer has become our Auntie Marne of verse. In their various levels of artistic success, these five poets show what rich and diverse possibilities the West offers those who want to write about it. Wherever they may be, let us continue to read our poets on their terms; let us evaluate, rather thanjudge them. To this end let me make two suggestions for those of us who are especially concerned with being teachers and critics of Western American litera­ ture. First of all, much more than critical pronouncements, we need a fresh and inclusive anthology of Western poetry. At the Association’s recent meeting in Jackson Hole, I felt that, after lauding the Tetons and lamenting out-of-print Western novels, the next most popular topic was the need for a gathering between two covers of the best in Western Poetry. Certainly some work has been done toward this end with John R. Milton’s collections of Indian poetry, and Golden Taylor’shighly teachable section of poetry about the West in his text,The Literature oftheAmerican West. More is needed. Secondly, I feel we have neglected one of the richest sources of Western poetry by so little considering the many outstanding poets associated with the Pacific Northwest. Gary Snyder and William Stafford have received some serious study for their Western themes, but what about Theodore Roethke, the colorful genius-mentor to a whole generation of nationally-known poets? Surely much could be done with the “Westernness” in not only Roethke’s writing, but in the poetry of David Wagoner, Carolyn Kizer, Kenneth Hansen, Robin Skelton, Richard Hugo, Paul Hunter, and awhole host of lesser-known, highly talented voices. Besides being some of our best regionalists, they are outstanding as poets. All of which suggests that if the day of Robert Service is not past, it must at least co-exist with a large body of quality Western poetry, waiting for a much deserved increased recognition and critical study. PATRICK D. MORROW, University of Southern California Western Writers Series. Numbers 1 to 5. Edited by Wayne Chatterton and James H. Maguire. (Boise, Idaho: Boise State College, 1972. 48-51 pages, $1.50.) Vardis Fisher. No. 1. By Wayne Chatterton. Mary Hallock Foote. No. 2. By James H. Maguire. John Muir. No. 3. By Thomas J. Lyon. Wallace Stegner. No. 4. By Merrill and Lorene Lewis. Bret Harte. No. 5. By Patrick Morrow. This new series edited by Wayne Chatterton and James H. Maguire of Boise State College is attractive and handy. Like the popular University of Minnesota 160 Western American Literature Pamphlets on American Writers, the Steck-Vaughn Southwest Writers Series, and the Columbia Essays on Modern Writers, the Western Writers Series wars against verbosity, redundancy, and moribund data. Furthermore, in staking out its critical-biographical-bibliographical claim, this new series does not duplicate past or anticipated titles in the earlier series. Although booklets are kinder to one’s wallet than tat books, little books cost more to publish per page than big ones. For economic reasons, then, the Western Writers Series is issued in groups of five, but each booklet is an individual performance. Wayne Chatterton sees Vardis Fisher of the Western Rockies as a maverick. Not only is he one of America’s foremost regionalists, but he also is a leading scholar-novelist of ideas. Although Fisher devoted a lifetime to literature, uneven quality attends his voluminous production. But less for this, Chatterton asserts, than because Fisher has remained loyal to his region and his ideas, he has suffered critical and popular neglect. Yet because he has chosen neglect over...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 159-161
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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