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This article is taken from PN Review 246, Volume 45 Number 4, March - April 2019.

Liking A.E. Stallings

‘Matrona Docta’ and Metrical Poet
N.S. Thompson
SHORT BIOGRAPHIES DELIGHT in saying Stallings studied classics in Athens, Georgia and now lives in Athens, Greece, married to the journalist John Psaropoulos with whom she has two children. Born in Decatur, Georgia in 1968, she later did postgraduate work at the University of Oxford. Like (Farrar Straus Giroux) is now her fourth book of poetry, the first three having won major awards and grants in the United States. For British readers she writes the occasional ‘Freelance’ article for the Times Literary Supplement, where her poems also appear, and is perhaps remembered for her candidature for the Chair of Poetry at Oxford in 2015, when it was won by Simon Armitage.

As a largely metrical poet, her work occupies a link with tradition, but also opens up a historical space that offers a fascinating horizon for the reader as well as offering a touchstone for the creative act. It could be argued that such a referential link is irrelevant today in that in order to understand the contemporary world we need only today’s references, today’s things and today’s ideas. The notion of ‘the poetry of Now’ goes back to D. H. Lawrence’s essay ‘The Poetry of the Present’ (published as preface to his New Poems, 1920) where he says that ‘the seething poetry of the incarnate Now is supreme’.  It is still a view to which many adhere, but in dealing purely with the present, there is always a danger of it rapidly becoming the past and with the pressing speed of change the example of history becomes ...

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