On Saturday, acclaimed poet and longtime Yale professor John Hollander passed away at 83, after a long career that earned him favorable comparisons to 20th century masters of verse like W.H. Auden.
In The New York Times, William Grimes writes that Hollander was "a virtuosic poet who breathed new life into traditional verse forms and whose later work achieved a visionary, mythic sweep."
John Hollander has died. A terrific poet, and the most brilliant modern scholar. He was the scholar I wanted to be. http://t.co/DsdDMg6zZD— Tim Kendall (@TKendallExeter) August 19, 2013
Be sure to read this Paris Review interview from 1985, in which Hollander tells fellow poet J.D. McClatchy, "What a teacher can do is point out to you that things you’re doing when you read or listen or think about language, even though they may seem very weird to you and you may suppress them, are not mistakes, are the right thing to be doing." Refreshingly, he does not like the workshop model.
Here's a remembrance from n+1 founder Marco Roth, posted last night on Facebook:
As for Hollander's own verse, The Times has a selection that includes "Helicon," a poem about Hollander and Allen Ginsberg going to donate blood. Poets.org features some poems, too. Among them is "The Mad Potter," in which Hollander writes, "Clay to clay: Soon I shall indeed become / Dumb as these solid cups of hardened mud."
(Photo: Sara Barrett, via American Academy of Poets)