"Sober and very bright, conveying a great sense of respect for the art, The Flexible Lyric exhibits many of the same qualities that it so aptly examines and admires in poetry."
—Dean Young, author of Strike Anywhere
"Since Randall Jarrell, poets have bemoaned the lack of a true poet-critic, a sensibility both commonsensical, laconic, and appropriately imaginative. Now we have Ellen Bryant Voigt, who offers Jarrell's combination of wit and gravity—as well as his critical urgency in choosing subjects of scrutiny. What Ellen Bryant Voigt says here needs to be said—the reader finds relief as she sorts out the vexed questions of gender, genre, and form—using the lyric itself as her source of inquiry. These pages are filled with insights that make The Flexible Lyric a classic—timeless, unbiased, brilliant."
"[Voigt's] poems are tantalizing, supremely crafted, sublime. Voigt has explored refinements of feeling that most people overlook and delineated these feelings with a hand as deft as Rembrandt's."
—San Francisco Chronicle, on Ellen Bryant Voigt
"A passionate defense of the richness, variety, and ambition of the lyric mode . . . it's a celebration of poetic virtues."
"These eloquent essays celebrate the art and craft of lyric poetry, passionately and astutely revisiting the work of poets from Shakespeare to Bishop. The book is an inspired argument, proving that the making of poems is not just a trade but a calling."
"Because she possesses a lyric voice as fine as any we have in American poetry today, [her] poems have something of the quality of music, an understated fugue we follow into darkness."
—Shenandoah, on Ellen Bryant Voigt
Intimate as well as informative, the collection begins with a discussion of the creative process and Voigt's fascination with the writing of Flannery O'Connor and Elizabeth Bishop. Readings of lyric poems by Shakespeare, Sidney, Poe, Stevens, Williams, Larkin, Bogan, Roethke, Plath, Levertov, Berryman, and others demonstrate the roles of gender, point of view, image, and music in poetry. An experienced teacher, Voigt focuses on the lyric but encourages, in any study of poetry, original thinking, attention to structure, and, above all, close reading of the work itself. An intelligent and thought-provoking marriage of art and scholarship, The Flexible Lyric exemplifies, with fierceness, dedication, and precision, how the making of poems is not just a trade but a calling.
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