American Writers, Supplement XV by Leonard Unger, Jay Parini

By Leonard Unger, Jay Parini

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In his later books, he further melds dramatic artifice with personal revelation, blurring the boundary between the two with even more subtlety and finesse. THE SACRIFICE While Bidart’s first two books earned him a small but loyal following, with the publication of The Sacrifice (1983) he began to receive widespread recognition as a major voice in American letters. His interest in classical literature resurfaces with a translation of Catullus’ epigram “Odi et Amo” (I hate and love)—a brief poem that encapsulates the conflict that informs much of Bidart’s poetry.

44–46. Wernblad, Annette. Brooklyn Is Not Expanding: Woody Allen’s Comic Universe. : Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 1992. Yacowar, Maurice. Loser Take All: The Comic Art of Woody Allen. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1979. —DANIEL VILMURE Frank Bidart 1939– F SURPRISING ORIGINS BIDART IS one of the leading poets of his generation. His books have consistently been nominated for many of America’s major prizes for poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and he has received honors from all the significant organizations concerned with the arts—the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Shelley Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Rebekka Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress, the Lannan Literary Award, and the Lila Wallace– Reader’s Digest Foundation Award.

A car accident leaves him with “a 26 / AMERICAN WRITERS space” where his arm one was and this event transforms the world into a place where there is either no meaning, or too much. While the accident was a seemingly arbitrary event, it changes everything in his life and this change is intolerable. The paradox presented in the first few lines of the poem sums up the narrator’s dilemma: When I wake up, I try to convince myself that my arm isn’t there— to retain my sanity. Then I try to convince myself it is.

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