The Boston Review has a nice review of Frank Bidart’s most recent book of poetry, Watching the Spring Festival:
Bidart’s earlier poems are famous, albeit divisively so, for the
unconventional use of capitalization, italics, and punctuation. Some
critics, including fellow poets Louise Glück and Robert Pinsky (writing
in On Frank Bidart: Fastening the Voice to the Page), have identified
these choices as marking a set of performance instructions for the
reader, annotating the precise way in which the poems are meant to be
read. In many instances, the consequence of these graphic emphases has
been to highlight the agony of the poem, not as a sensationalistic
celebration of agony, but to force the reader to see how the tragic
element of the poem is indeed truly tragic, which is to say, inevitable.
time, Bidart has come to rely less and less upon these devices, and his
poems literally appear calmer on the page, which may in part explain
why these most recent poems have come to be regarded as more lyric than
Read our review of the book, as well.
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