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Hunting Men

Reflections on a Life in American Poetry

312 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / None

Literary Studies

  Paperback / 9780807131824 / December 2006

In Hunting Men, poet Dave Smith reasserts the validity of poetry in our times. With eloquence, grace, and a searching intelligence, Smith illuminates both poems and poets. Believing that "great poetry cannot be divorced from an intimate, organic link to place," he builds a compelling case for the importance of southern poets. Like the hunters who taught Smith as a young man patience, observation, and willingness to rely on his senses, he leads readers on an expedition through a specific poetic place with a sure sense of direction and destination.

Beginning with a discussion of southern poetry that seeks to define the form and its value for a global readership, the first of the book's three sections also includes reflections on Edgar Allan Poe, John Crowe Ransom, Robert Penn Warren, and James Dickey. In the second part, Smith focuses on contemporary poets Richard Hugo, Stephen Dunn, Stephen Dobyns, and Larry Levis, among others. In the final chapters, he examines how he came to be a poet and reflects on the nature and practice of poetry.

Smith describes himself as a poet born and raised in the South "but never entirely comfortable with the neighborhood or many of the public assumptions about southernness." By describing why southern poetry is important to him, he reveals why poetry matters to all of us as he asserts the moral weight of regional art. "My success, if it occurs, will be to send readers to the books of the poets where the world, as they knew it, waits and is full of the delights of the unglimpsed and known." 

Dave Smith is the author of many books of poetry, fiction, criticism, and memoir, including The Wick of Memory: New and Selected Poems, 1970-2000, and Little Boats, Unsalvaged: Poems, 1992-2004. Former editor of The Southern Review, he is now Elliott Coleman Professor of Poetry and chairman of the Writing Seminars at the Johns Hopkins University. He has received numerous honors, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation, and membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

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