Book of the Week #16

Richard Eberhart: The Progress of an American Poet by Joel Roache (NY: Oxford University Press, 1971)

Richard Eberhart was a founder and Honorary President of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and served as New Hampshire Poet Laureate from 1979-1984. This volume was published when Eberhart was  67 years old, but it cannot be viewed as a full biography as Eberhart lived to age 101.

"Mr. Roache's account of the twistings and turnings of Richard Eberhart's life and his literary fortunes is both fascinating in its biographical detail, and important as an illustration of what it means to be a poet in America today. This eminent poet's career parallels, in a sense, the way poets and poetry in general find acceptance in American Society. 
Eberhart's poetry has, by now, taken the Pulitzer Prize, the Billingen Prize, and the Harriet Monroe Prize, among others, and most recently he was awarded the 1969 Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets. He has served also as Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress. But not until he was well past youth did Eberhart receive real recognition as a poet; not, until 1952, was he paid a living wage as a poet. His art remained individual and separate from his professional life, unrecognized and unremunerated by society.
Concentrating upon the facts of Eberhart's life, Mr. Roache tells of his comfortable childhood and youth int he American midwest, of his schooling, of the period of rebellion and alienation following his mother's death and the collapse of his father's fortune, and of his prolonged and unsatisfying search for acknowledgement and support as a poet. The narrative shows that an integration of artistic and social roles was not easily achieved. 
Before his first university appointment Eberhart had worked in a department store and a slaughterhouse, had been a sailor, a tutor to Asian royalty, a soldier (of sorts), a preparatory school teacher, and a business executive. As the author examines Eberhart's successive confrontations with reality, he shows also their relation to the inner vision expressed in his poetry, and to the process through which his recognition by society as a poet led to his own acceptance of that society. 
In a final section the author discussed the poet's activities during the last decade and the distictive themes and qualities of his poetry. He offers also an evaluation of recent criticism of the poets work." --Jacket copy

No comments: