Donald Justice   A Donald Justice Reader: Selected Poetry and Prose.
Middlebury College Press/ University Press of New England, 171 pages, $17.95

In 1975 I took a course at Harvard from Elizabeth Bishop. Her general popularity at that moment can be measured by the size of her class; enrollment totaled five students. Although Bishop had won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, she was considered a “poet’s poet,” a writer treasured by fellow artists but not much noted by critics, and hardly known at all by the common reader. Today Bishop’s reputation stands as high as that of any American poet of the last forty years. She is perhaps the only major poet of her generation on whom academic critics and non-specialists can enthusiastically agree. But back then a coterie sustained her modest succès d’estime.

Today Donald Justice occupies a similar position in...


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