Desperate Measures

William Logan

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The preeminent poet-critic of his generation.--Kirkus Reviews

William Logan is the best practical critic around.--Christian Wiman, Poetry

William Logan has been called "the most hated man in American poetry" and the most dangerous poetry critic since Randall Jarrell. Desperate Measures continues the critical fevers of Reputations of the Tongue (UPF, 1999), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award in criticism. Beginning with an exploration of some of Robert Frost's least-known poems, these essays consider Ezra Pound's letters, T. S. Eliot's metaphysical lectures, the lightness of Elizabeth Bishop, and the civil tongue of Richard Wilbur, finding in poetry a language that lasts beyond the petty conventions of the age.
Added to these thoughtful essays are provocative reviews of contemporary poetry, full of Logan's caustic wit and sharp-eyed scrutiny. He praises the moral rigor of Anthony Hecht and Geoffrey Hill, the raucous antics of Paul Muldoon, the natural warmth of Seamus Heaney, the violence of Christopher Logue, the cheerful abandon of Amy Clampitt. Intolerant of mediocre verse, Logan ranges widely through the poetry of America, Britain, and Ireland, finding much to criticize, though some of his judgments are surprising and he is rarely predictable.
Logan's own poetry has been called dazzling, original, brilliant, and difficult. Like the distinguished poet-critics of the past, his criticism is an extension of a personal wrestling with language. While criticism of contemporary poetry is often pallid, diplomatic, and full of evasive judgments, Logan is willing to raise hackles, to be cheerfully controversial. The often eloquent criticism in Desperate Measures, which views poetry from one end of the last century to the other, is a passionate defense of poetry in an unpoetic time.

William Logan is professor of English at the University of Florida.

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"William Logan-poet, critic, and professor of English at the University of Florida- has been called 'the best practical critic around' (Poetry Magazine) and 'the most hated man in American poetry' (Hudson Review). Certainly this volume of essays, Desperate Measures, displays scathing conceits reminiscent of Randall Jarrell and a fierce attentiveness characteristic of its dedicatee, Christopher Ricks. But Logan is his own man, and these pages can be read for their insight, however, iconoclastic, as well as for their crisp prose." - Michael Dirda, Washington Post Washington Post

"Logan's third collection of reviews and essay, Desperate Measures, finds him well-turned, sharpened sentences in fine form." - Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly

"When it comes to separating the serious from the fraudulent, the ambitious from the complacent, Logan has consistently shown us what is wheat and what is chaff." - Oxford American Oxford American

"But Desperate Measures proffers a bundle of outstanding critical commentary, treating poetry with the schooled sensibility and arrogance of taste that best requites the art's convoluted demands upon our attention." The Georgia Review

"In an age of no standards, when everything is wonderful because that's the nature of diversity and when only the brashest among us dare offer a dissenting opinion about the quality of anyone else's work, William Logan's voice is refreshing." ; " He should be doubly cautious each time he crosses a street." Sewanee Review

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