Parallel Play

Parallel Play by Stephen Burt

A library book. I don’t check books out from the library very often (because you have you give them the books back after you have taken them home and gotten all comfy with them), but I enjoy exploring the public library’s catalog and their shelves. I got some this time because I went with my fiance and she checked out some books so I figured I might as well see what I could find.

Hopefully, I will return them on time.

Anyway, I browsed the poetry sections and picked up some contemporary poetry, including Parallel Play.

Stephen Burt is probably more well known as a critic than as a poet. I would like to read his new book Close Calls with NonsenseReading New Poetry (2009). And I enjoyed this book of smart, clever poems. Burt has a strong and original voice. I wish the poems had a little more fire and spice, more emotional vitriol (more for my own tastes than any failing of the poet), but these are rich works filled with insight and understanding.Grade: B-

I particularly enjoyed interpretations of some of Callimachus’ poems that he included at the end of each section of the book. Here’s one:

After Callimachus

Cover me quietly, stone.
I wrote verse. I meant little in life,
blamed few and injured none;
I tried to get along.
My writings kept me warm.
If I with my featherlight pen
confused prestige with worth,
praised evil, or ever wronged
the few who wanted a fight,
allow me , generous earth,
to do no further harm–
let me atone in my sleep;
I with my good will,
so lightly and so often given,
who rest with nothing to keep,
and nothing to offer heaven.


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