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Simpson, Louis (Aston Marantz) (1923- ).

poet, critic, novelist, editor. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Simpson has described growing up there in his autobiography, North of Jamaica (1972), but also discussed influences on his poetry, such as his mother's Eastern European Jewish background, his life in America beginning in 1940, and his service in World War II, the subject for a number of his important poems. Critics often divide Simpson's work into three periods: the first three books--The Arrivistes (1949), Good News of Death (1955), and A Dream of Governors (1959)--contain poems traditionally structured in meter and rhyme, with a frequent use of classical myth. The next two--At the End of the Open Road (Pulitzer Prize, 1963) and Adventures of the Letter I (1971)--mark a move to free verse, more surreal imagery, and an increasing emphasis on the poet's vision of American life. The later books--Searching for the Ox (1976), Caviare at the Funeral (1981), and The Best Hour of the Night (1983)--reveal Simpson's desire to adopt the subjects and methods of writers like Wordsworth and Chekhov, to narrate incidents of everyday life in language that gives the impression of an ordinary person speaking to others. These poems have been faulted for being prosaic, perhaps because the voice of narration, often very subtle in its movement and its condensations of expression, creates an understated lyricism more appropriate to the poems' characters and situations but less easily discernible than the traditional rhythms of his earlier poetry. More than any other major contemporary poet Simpson has used compressed narratives in which disjunctions and juxtapositions capture a sense of important emotion in apparently ordinary events of modern suburban life. His other works include Riverside Drive (1962); Three on the Tower: The Lives and Works of Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and William Carlos Williams (1975); A Revolution in Taste: Studies in Dylan Thomas, Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath, and Robert Lowell (1978); A Company of Poets (1981); and The Character of the Poet (1986).

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Author:Bensko, John
Publication:Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia of American Literature
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1991
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