Sunday, April 18, 2010

Life Studies by Robert Lowell

I read Life Studies because I recently picked up Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, and I wanted to read some of both writer's poetry before I read their correspondence. I also read a lot of biographies about writers like Dream Song: The Life of John Berryman and The Fading Smile: Poets in Boston from Robert Lowell to Sylvia Plath which mentioned a lot about Lowell, even if they weren't primarily about him. There is also Anne Sexton's poem about taking classes with Lowell as he was having a bout of mental illness. I felt like I already knew so much about him before reading one of his books.

It was really nice seeing where confessional got its start. My favorite poems were in parts 3 and 4 of the book, and I liked part 4 (the most confessional) best of all. The poems in the beginning were kind of cold, and the I felt like the other poems at the end invited me closer. I liked reading about Lowell's family, especially his grandparents and mother. Their portraits are vivid.

My favorite poems in this book:

For Sale (The "Words,Words,Words" at the top of this web page made me laugh)

Waking in the Blue

Skunk Hour (You can listen to the audio at this site)

To Delmore Schwartz


At 3:57 PM, Blogger Chad Parenteau said...

I have the Ian Hamilton book on Lowell iffen your interested. An instructor I had at Emerson who studied under Lowell took every opportunity to express contempt for the book and STILL used a chapter from the book to illustrate Life Studies poems.

At 8:55 AM, Blogger Marie said...

Words in Air really sparked a Lowell/Bishop enthusiasm for me. Besides their poems, I read both the Hamilton & the Mariani Lowell biographies, and I have to say that I preferred Mariani's, just for the level of human feeling he extends to Lowell--Hamilton seems to actively dislike him, which makes an entire biography a bit hard for me to take.

Reading Poets in Their Youth now, and if you're a Berryman fan, definitely recommend!


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