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Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. This is a great book. I loved the first several chapters detailing Jane Kenyon's life and marriage, The following chapters break down each of her books with thoughtful insight that both hearkens back to her life story, and expands on her fantastic use of poetic tools and techniques. I emailed the author while reading and told him of my excitement and appreciation for his work. He told me that, of all his books, he had the most emotional connection to this book.

It is very clear he was both academically and emotionally committed to Jane Kenyon and Don Hall. She is my absolute favorite poet. One person found this helpful. A Literary Life by John H. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. This book provides a rich, deep exploration of Jane Kenyon's life and work, including information on her childhood and adolescence.

Timmerman references a number of her poems from each of her poetry collections and provides a woven explanation of her life circumstances at the time of the poems. He also includes some of her essays and unpublished work. I have been exceptionally pleased with this book and would highly recommend it for any Jane Kenyon fan.

Drawing on unpublished journals and papers, interviews, and recollections from her husband, as well as her published volumes, John H. Timmerman presents a thoughtfully crafted biography of poet Jane Kenyon. In addition to sharing her personal history, he traces the development of her writing style and offers insightful analysis of both the writing process and the actual wording of a number of her best-known pieces from earliest drafts to final published versions.

Timmerman also includes accurate information about depressive illness and an empathic view of how it impacted Kenyon's work. He examines her affinity for the natural world, her strong ties to her physical surroundings, her struggles with both psychological and physical disease, and her spiritual searchings through the lens of her poetry. Finally, Timmerman shares glimpses into the relationships that shaped and sustained Kenyon: I usually encounter a poet the other way round - first reading the poems and then, if they resonate with me, finding out more about the person behind them.

In this case, however, this biography with its delicate balance of attention to both the poet and her work has given me an excellent foundation for reading Kenyon's poems with a deeper understanding than I would ordinarily have had this early in my experience with them. As someone who adores Jane Kenyon and her writings, I looked forward to this book for months, and wasn't disappointed. It was especially enlightening to read excerpts from her teenage journals and see the early writings of the woman she would turn into; she never lost her sense of self, humor and determinedness.

Those who know her poems will be delighted to learn of the early drafts and background to their writing. Kenyon's husband, Donald Hall, also adds pertinent commentary. This book will reward you and send you back to the poems and writings of this wonderful woman. As a reader who has had to buy Otherwise several times to replace those copies enthusiastically given to friends and acquaintances, I was looking forward to reading what I hoped would be an insightful biography.

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I will not try to express my disappointment other than to say that after about a hundred pages I threw this book into the wastebasket in disgust. Buy "A Hundred White Daffodils" which is quoted from so often and so extensively one suspects how much effort was put toward any other source.

Happiness by Jane Kenyon

Apart from the quotes, the book seems more written by a freshman student than anyone else. Jane Kenyon deserves a good biographer.

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This book is an embarrassment. New and Selected Poems has few parallels in contemporary poetry. The last figure I heard of the number of copies in print was seventy thousand, a number even a novelist striving to be popular would be pleased to see. A few of her poems are quoted regularly. Although this reading, the immediate association of evening with death, limits the possibilities of this poem, I suspect that Kenyon might be pleased to find that her work has served as a consolation to many people at difficult moments.

Even the fact that her publisher, Graywolf Press, has decided to do a Collected Poems, given its ongoing success with Otherwise, is an indication of the unique presence Kenyon and her work can claim in contemporary letters. Anyone who reads Kenyon will be happy to see the extra thirty-five poems in this volume, most of which appeared in her earlier volumes but were not selected for Otherwise. Here they are restored to their rightful places in their respective volumes, although a few uncollected lesser poems are also included.

It is both instructive and a pleasure to see the Twenty Poems of Anna Akhmatova, together with the work they have influenced, although the reader will have to make the effort to place that work between From Room to Room first published in and The Boat of Quiet Hours from The original books were organized into sections, and that feature has been restored.

Writers On Jane Kenyon. In the introduction to that volume, he tells us that Kenyon was adamant about not including it in Otherwise, as she and Hall worked quickly to assemble the selection shortly before she died a task movingly described by Hall in the afterword to Otherwise and in the last chapter of his The Best Day the Worst Day: Life with Jane Kenyon. Apparently she felt the poem was unfinished, and it is a bit more talky and less polished than most of her published work.

Most of the poems Kenyon had excluded from Otherwise , however, were excluded for more understandable reasons. It seems clear, looking through the poems she excluded from Otherwise, that these poems may have seemed contrived or a bit clever and derivative when she looked back on them, that they did not measure up to her two exacting standards. In this poem the natural object was not the adequate symbol. On the other hand, to have the poem here in a more expansive volume, in a place where we can enjoy seeing a poet mastering her craft rather than crafting masterpieces, seems right.

I think I may be hearing an echo of some early Bly in this poem, or perhaps something of James Wright, although he usually handled this kind of thing a little more comfortably. Still, Kenyon may have realized that and, on her deathbed, took it out of Otherwise. I suspect that may have been because she found nothing particularly luminous about this particularity. There are others among the poems returned in the Collected Poems, however, that we can welcome back to the Kenyon canon without any reservation at all. The poem begins with an easy stretch toward finding the metaphor:.

A Literary Life, the first big critical biography of the poet, John H. He is very good, however, discussing the composition of many of the better known poems. For years we have heard from the interviews she gave, from Hall, and from others, that Kenyon made many drafts of her poems, working and polishing and chiseling, sweating through the process of finding the right form and the exact words.

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All those papers are now collected at the University of New Hampshire. His discussion of the composition of the poems is the great contribution of this book. He reproduces the first handwritten draft:. The thousands of readers who love this poem in its final form might be startled to see this loose prosy draft, with no hint of the controlled, almost regular lines in the elegant three line stanzas of the finished poem.

Jane Kenyon: A Literary Life: John H. Timmerman: Books

He has, however, left the door wide open for later biographies. Her early years are given very short shrift, and much of the context of her life is summed up in vague generalities.

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As the s deepened into history, the national mood grew more grim and frenetic. He is better with the move to New Hampshire in , although since Kenyon and Hall have written so much about that, it is an easier subject to explore. Although partially true, it is an incomplete understanding of the thoughtful religious life expressed in the poems. Writers on Jane Kenyon, edited by Joyce Peseroff, there are several examples of this: Jane was a beacon.

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Her eyes had also become more beautiful, her body more beautiful, and her maturity and sympathy for all that lived had become painfully beautiful, startling, ennobling. And I could go on. While I do not doubt for a moment the genuine emotion for a lost friend and admired poet that informs these quotes I, too, knew Kenyon slightly and had also noted the physical changes and the quiet strength that seemed to come from her in her last years , I do think that this attitude has allowed many of her readers to avoid a serious engagement with the spiritual and specifically Christian search that unifies the Collected Poems.

Still I think it is important that this attitude is preserved in Simply Lasting, because it, too, is part of how Jane Kenyon is read. This collection of personal and critical essays helps to establish the framework for understanding Kenyon. Simply Lasting makes several important essays available for the reader who might want to understand different readings of Jane Kenyon: Donald Hall, on the other hand, has taken it upon himself to make sure the biographical details are available to future readers.