The Poet We Are Still Not Ready For

Barbara Guest, New York School poet and biographer of H.D., dies.

by The Editors
In recognition of the passing of this central member of the New York School, the editors of have put together an appreciation of Barbara Guest, including an obituary, an appreciation from Christine Deavel, poems from the archive, and links to more information about Guest as well as other reactions to news of her death.

She was an underappreciated, integral member of the New York School. Lately, she had been experiencing a revival. Cynthia Haven talked to Guest’s daughter, Hadley, as well as Michael Palmer, Marjorie Perloff , and others about Guest’s life and legacy. Read the article

Poems by Barbara Guest from our Archive
Finnish Opera
Prairie Houses
Santa Fe Trail
The Screen of Distance
A Way of Being

An Appreciation
The news of Barbara Guest's death led me, of course, to take her books from the shelf. No sadness could eclipse the exhilaration I felt as I read—the startling delight I always feel when I read her work. I can't write about Barbara Guest from a scholar's perspective. First because I'm not a scholar. But more importantly because what her work has meant to me is much more personal. Her poems and essays gave me, in an instant, a new way of seeing, of thinking about poetry. They are vivid with the vigorous and elegant activity of the mind and the eye—her mind, her eye shared with me, with us. Though often quite spare and at times quite challenging (at least for me), her work is infused with a true spirit of generosity. Oh, that work. There will be no green like Barbara Guest's green, no gold, no red. And no space shimmering around words like her space. “The spirit is lifted among primary colors,” she wrote in “Noisetone.” “Nine rows of color./ The future writ in white spaces.”— Christine Deavel, proprietor of Open Books in Seattle, Washington

Around the Web
Jasper Bernes
Joshua Clover
Electronic Poetry Center
from the UK
Jacket magazine
Listen at PennSound
Michael Leddy
Jonathan Mayhew
Ron Silliman
Originally Published: February 17, 2006


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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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