Stephen Burt, Randall Jarrell, W. H. Auden and the best of the aughts.

Stephen BurtHere are a couple of interesting news items relating to the always-active Stephen Burt, author of The Forms of Youth: Twentieth Century Poetry and Adolescence and the editor of Randall Jarrell on W. H. Auden, which was recently selected by The Mark, a popular Canadian blog, as one of the best 10 books of the aughts.

Other authors on the list include such notables as David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, Alice Munro, and Jared Diamond, so it is great to see someone also looking beyond some of the more familiar names. Here’s what Michael Lista, who made the selections had to say about the book:

Randall Jarrell was the most brilliant and eloquent reader of poetry that the twentieth century ever saw, and his chief obsession – and influence – was W.H. Auden. He had written so extensively on Auden that when it came time to assemble his collected critical prose, Jarrell thought the inclusion of his Auden essays would unbalance his landmark Poetry and the Age. Thanks to Stephen Burt, these conflicted, obsessive essays are finally available to us, and they’re some of the finest pieces ever written about poetry. When asked about Jarrell’s amorous attacks on him, Auden shrugged and said (in perfect iambic pentameter): “I think Jarrell must be in love with me.”

After writing about poetry and adolescence (The Forms of Youth), it is perhaps not too much of a stretch that Burt now turns his attention to motherhood. In the current issue of the Boston Review, he offers an overview of poetry from the last 40 years or so on motherhood.

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