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This item is taken from PN Review 247, Volume 45 Number 5, May - June 2019.

ON APRIL FOOLS’ DAY – the first day of National Poetry Month in the United States – the poet Jeremy Sigler published an interview with his friend ‘the fearlessly outspoken critic and Stanford titan on the contemporary poetry canon, the complexities of O.J. Simpson, and the non-Zen of John Cage’, better known as Professor Marjorie Perloff. The interview appeared in Tablet Magazine: a new read on Jewish Life.

Perloff has contributed essays to PN Review: on Tom Raworth most recently, and before that in 2013 ‘Towards a Conceptual Lyric’ and, earlier, on ‘Anna Akhmatova in Translation’, on the Duncan/ Levertov correspondence. Her first contribution in 1981 was entitled ‘One of the Two Poetries’, a sustained response to British Poetry since 1970, a critical anthology I edited with Peter Jones. It was the beginning of an intermittent dialogue with Professor Perloff and other critics whose different points of view – because there is dialogue – illuminate the poetries they advocate and amend our own emphases, failures of contextual understanding and generosity. Her 1981 essay ends with praise for Christopher Middleton and ‘the sense that our differences are not, after all, irreconcilable’. Of PNR’s hospitality, she remarks, ‘Perhaps this is where Leavis’s call for a “humane social order” comes in.’

She was fifty when she first wrote for us. Now she is in her eighties. She claims that, ‘going back and rereading these old reviews after all these years’, reviews published between 1969 and 2017 that constitute her two-volume retrospective Circling the Canon, due out ...

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