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This article is taken from PN Review 250, Volume 46 Number 2, November - December 2019.

The American Pastoral of Douglas Crase
‘For in the moment I saw you, you were changed’
Ian Pople
The poetry of Douglas Crase is not very extensive. It is limited to a single book length volume, The Revisionist, published by Little, Brown in 1981, and an eighteen-page pamphlet/chapbook, The Astropastorals, published by Pressed Wafer in 2017. In a note appended to that pamphlet, Crase comments of its contents, ‘The last to appear, ‘Astropastoral’, was published in 2000’. Such a note might suggest that, for all intents and purposes, Douglas Crase has stopped writing poetry. In February of 2018, Pressed Wafer published Crase’s ‘essays and addresses’ in a volume entitled Lines from London Terrace.

The appearance of the two new books has given commentators the opportunity to pay Crase’s writing attention, after some thirty-seven years of near neglect. The neglect followed the thunderous ovation which The Revisionist received on its appearance. In fact, Crase’s poetry had encomia lined up even before its publication. Jacket puffs were received from, amongst others, John Ashbery, Harold Bloom, Anthony Hecht, John Hollander and James Merrill; puffs which the publisher ‘forgot’, apparently, to publish on the dust jacket of the original hardback, although Ashbery, Hollander and Merrill did make it to the back cover of the paperback.  

And the praise didn’t stop there. David Kalstone, introducing Crase at a reading with Ashbery, commented, ‘I think I speak for many in saying [The Revisionist] appeared with that sense of completeness of utterance and identity that must have come with the first books of Wallace Stevens – Harmonium – and Elizabeth Bishop – North and South’; Richard Howard in ...


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