Stanley Burnshaw began to publish poems in the 1920s and founded his own verse journal in 1925. After serving as coeditor and drama critic of the New Masses weekly (1934-1936), he entered book publishing, directing the Dryden Press until 1958, when he joined Henry Holt. The first of his nineteen earlier works, André Spire and His Poetry, appeared in 1934 and the last in 1990, A Stanley Burnshaw Reader, with an introduction by Denis Donoghue.
The present volume—the definitive Burnshaw collection—offers all the poems he wishes to preserve and a full representation of his prose, including My Friend, My Father in its entirety. The Collected Poems and Selected Prose is vital reading for anyone wishing to be fully acquainted with the man whom Karl Shapiro called "one of the best-respected men of letters of our time."
By Stanley Burnshaw
Stanley Burnshaw has received many honors, including an award for creative writing from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, honorary degrees from the City University of New York and Hebrew Union College, and a "Special Stanley Burnshaw Issue" of Agenda (London). He divides his time between Martha's Vineyard and Key Biscayne.
"Stanley Burnshaw has played an active role on the literary scene since the late 1920s in many capacities—poet, critic, editor-publisher, fiction writer, memoirist, translator, anthologist, and theorist of poetry and translation. Besides collecting most of his poems for the first time, something which has long been overdue, this book gives a broad overview of his prose writing, including the whole last section of his biography/memoir of Robert Frost; a key chapter from his classic work of poetic theory, The Seamless Web; the definitive last word on his controversy with Wallace Stevens; and the whole text of his superb memoir/novella, My Friend, My Father. These are pieces that will never go out of fashion.
As a poet, Burnshaw is a meticulous craftsman with a fine ear and a considerable lyric gift. The first section, Early and Late Testament, is not his strongest, but there are many fine poems here. Caged in an Animal's Mind (1963) and In the Terrified Radiance (1972) show Burnshaw at the peak of his powers as a poet, breaking through to an essential clarity and simplicity, as do some of the last poems. Burnshaw, now in his nineties, has made numerous small revisions in poems all through the book, and every single one of them is an improvement, [which] shows what a conscious craftsman and creative student of verse he remains.
In sum, this book not only fills out the historical record of an important and enduring literary career, but also offers a wonderful range of good reading in both prose and poetry—in short, a living body of work."
—Morris Dickstein, Distinguished Professor of English and Senior Fellow, Center for the Humanities, Graduate Center of the City University of New York