American poet admired for his technical virtuosityThe American poet John Hollander, who has died aged 83, was a master of verse whose technical virtuosity and intellectual underpinnings were highly regarded, even as they stood in sharp contrast to the changing fashions of the poetic world. As Sterling professor emeritus of English at Yale University, he was hugely influential as a critic and teacher of remarkable rigour.Hollander made his mark when his first collection, A Crackling of Thorns (1958), was chosen by WH Auden for the Yale Younger Poets series. Auden may have been recognising his own influence on Hollander’s work; Hollander said he admired Auden’s ability to improvise with literary modes and forms, especially “the relation between seriousness and play” in poetry.Humour played an important part in Hollander’s early work. He was born in New York, where his father was a physiologist and his mother a teacher. A precocious student, he wrote a column for the newspaper at Bronx high school of science in the style of the humorist SJ Perelman. “Someone should write an essay,” he said, “on the importance of Perelman not only to comic but also to very serious writers.”He enrolled at Columbia University, where professors in …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books