The Familiar Stranger
by Lewis Turco
Publisher: Star Cloud Press
Publication Date: 5/2/2014
Page Count: 112
A new book by Lewis Turco is always a welcome occasion, whether literary handbook, memoir, literary criticism, short fiction, or poetry. (His poetry was also published under the anagrammatic pen name Wesli Court.) The latest of about fifty books, The Familiar Stranger, is a volume of poetry published by Star Cloud Press on the occasion of the poet's 80th birthday. This book is a gift to readers who will find a treasure in Turco's accomplished poems, not only for the craft and genius of composition, but for the plentitude of acute observations of the natural world and human nature. [...]
This is a satisfying volume for a number of reasons. Many of the poems rival Yeats' for musicality. The poems have a wide range of subjects. The poet does not flinch from the subjects of death and decay, nor does he shy away from the beauty and mysteries of the natural world. Moreover, a goodly number of poems are witty; "Mon Coeur" is a Confutatione, a form in which the first word of each line, reading downward from first line to last, presents a statement that is in contrast to the poem as a whole, when the poem is read in a normal manner. In the following quotation of each line's first words in "Mon Coeur," for the sake of comprehension I have omitted indication of the line breaks and have regularized the punctuation and capitalization: "He is a fool who has no sense of humor. That poet is an ass who thinks himself a priest." The same might be said of the critic. — Miriam N. Kotzin, PerContra.net
About Lewis Turco:
Lewis Turco, Professor Emeritus of English Writing Arts, is perhaps the most widely respected poet-scholar in the United States. He took his B.A. from the University of Connecticut in 1959 and his M.A. from the University of Iowa in 1962. In 2000, he received an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from Ashland University in Ohio.
Founding Director of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center (1962) and the Program in Writing Arts at the State University of New York at Oswego (1968) before his retirement in 1996, he was chosen to write the major essay on "Poetry" - as well as a dozen other entries - for the Encyclopedia of American Literature, and he was himself included in it as a biographee. His poems, essays, stories and plays have appeared in most of the major literary periodicals over the past half-century, and in over one hundred books and anthologies.
Lewis Turco's classic The Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics has been called "the poet's Bible" since its original publication in 1968, through three editions and many printings. A companion volume, The Book of Literary Terms, The Genres of Fiction, Drama, Nonfiction, Literary Criticism and Scholarship, received a Choice award as an "Outstanding Academic Book" for the year 2000. A third book in the series, The Book of Dialogue, appeared in 2004. His first book of criticism, Visions and Revisions of American Poetry, won the Melville Cane Award of the Poetry Society of America in 1986, and his A Book of Fears: Poems, with Italian translations by Joseph Alessia, won the first annual Bordighera Bilingual Poetry Prize in 1998. Poems in his book of poetry, The Green Maces of Autumn: Voices in an Old Maine House (2002) won both the Silverfish Review Chapbook Award for 1989, and the Cooper House Chapbook Competition for 1990. In 1999, Professor Turco received the John Ciardi Award for lifetime achievement in poetry sponsored by the periodical Italian Americana and the National Italian American Foundation.
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