Thursday April 23rd, 2009

“I love coming to New Jersey, but I love missing it, too.”

In his review of Thom Gunn’s Selected Poems (above), Richard Wirick praises the introduction written by August Kleinzahler. The Guardian recently ran a profile of the poet, which includes a take on his sometimes gruff exterior:

Others have wondered whether Kleinzahler, whose father worked in real estate and sent his son to the elite Horace Mann school in New York, assumes a bad-boy mask shaped for the authentically pock-marked features of Charles Bukowski or Gregory Corso. To [Adam] Kirsch, the “roughneck persona” appears to be “the product of a persistent American neurosis about poetry and art being unmasculine. To compensate for their presumed loss of masculine status, certain writers make alcohol and fighting part of their literary persona.”

I’m not very familiar with Kleinzahler’s work, but the profile is worth reading. (The shot of him with his cat is pretty great, too.) I liked his thoughts about why he hasn’t settled into any long-term academic job:

“I really feel that it’s an unsavoury business, sitting in a room and critiquing the poetry of youngsters who aren’t yet formed as adults, far less as writers, and who are highly professionalised and ambitious and want to be assured that they’re doing something of importance. It’s terrible to lie to young people. And that’s what it’s about.”

(Via Bookslut)