May 6, 2013

The May/June 2013 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine features an interview by William Giraldi with Frank Bidart, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and Professor of English. Bidart is the editor of Collected Poems of Robert Lowell as well as the author of several collections of poetry, including Desire (1997), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, and National Book Critics Circle Award.

The interview canvassed a number of writers, including John Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, James Joyce, Elizabeth Bishop, and Robert Lowell, who exerted a powerful influence on his approach to making poems. Bidart's personal friendships with Bishop and Lowell (whose works are supercharged with candor) especially animated his life and work. "All of my poems are an attempt to speak with sufficient density," says Bidart in the interview.

His new work, Metaphysical Dog, is "very much a book about the hunger for the absolute, even though one feels that almost all the representatives or embodiments of people who very explicitly hunger for the absolute are terrible, manipulative, destructive, far too convinced of rectitude." In Giraldi's estimation, Metaphysical Dog, Bidart's ninth volume of poems, is "his most intimate testimonial of the poetic mind in reciprocity with the personal man."

Two of Frank Bidart's poems from Metaphysical Dog were also featured recently in the PEN Poetry Series. Reviewing Metaphysical Dog for NPR, Craig Morgan Teicher wrote, "The weight of Bidart's guilt and anguish is palpable — it seems to force itself up from the page at the reader, but so does his faith that art can make hardship not merely bearable, but almost unbearably beautiful."

-Rhoda Feng '13