The Anthologist

The Anthologist

The Anthologist is narrated by Paul Chowder -- a once-in-a-while-published kind of poet who is writing the introduction to a new anthology of poetry.

What unfolds is a wholly entertaining and beguiling love story about poetry: from Tennyson, Swinburne, and Yeats to the moderns (Roethke, Bogan, Merwin) to the staff of The New Yorker, what Paul reveals is astonishing and makes one realize how incredibly important poetry is to our lives.

Reviews of the The Anthologist

Oh yes, it looks terrible doesn't it, I should have changed my shirt. Well, I picked up this lovely little cat you see, and it just kind of reached out and took a chunk out of me. Now if you wished you could call that a metaphor for a great part of my experience of life, yes, ha ha. Well, I've thought of a great new idea. This is the thing, right - I've just been sitting around with a tape recorder - this one here - and burbling out random observations about poetry and life and whatnot, and how rhyme has been evicted from modern poetry and how dismal that is. I've already got a whole box of tapes of all of this rambling stuff. It won't end up being filmed with jeff Bridges. Yes, it'll go in the box with all the rest.

Hello, this is Paul Chowder welcoming you to Chowder's Bowl of Poetry. And I'm you host, Paul Chowder, and this is Chowder's Plumfest of Poems. Hello, and Welcome to Paul Chowder Poetry Hour. I'm your host and confidant, Paul Chowder, and I'd like to welcome you to Chowder's Flying Spoon of Rhyme. And this is Chowder's Poetry Cheatsheet, and I'm your host, Paul Chowder, from hell and gone, welcoming you to Chowder's Thimblesquirt of Verse. Hello, this is Paul Chowder, and I'm going to tell you everything I know. Paul Chodwer has both an angel and a devil sitting on his shoulders as he pens this stream of conscience novel that is actually a comprehensive study of poetry and poets through the ages. Since Paul Chowder is offered here as an example of an anthologist, lets take a closer look at him: Paul is about fifty, he has published several well appreciated poems in literary journals and personal collections. Oh, and his girlfriend Roz has just left him because he seems unable to make the slightest effort to write a louzy introduction to his soon to be published anthology of English Poetry. All these poets, when they begin to feel that they are descending into one of their personal canyons of despair, use rhyme to help themselves tightrope over it. Paul is also good at making poetry personal, part of everyday life, good at conveying the underlying passion for his chosen subject and for his chosen career (anthologist). >><><><< The rest of my review is a chowder of clams, crab claws and beautiful seashells - mostly random tidbits I have bookmarked in the text when I came across an elegantly expressed idea, the name of a poet I want to know more about, a fragment of verse that brings up fond memories, a funny way at looking at an established concept. Another good quote I considered for opening my review shows Paul Chowder in his Master of Ceremonies at the circus disguise: Let's have a look at this poem. Rhymes, of course, and Paul is one of champions of good rhyming, scolding (most of the time) the proponents of free verse. Paul chowder, like the author Nicholson, has a strong background in music, and to both of them poetry is something that should be read out loud or sung, tap-dancing to the rhythms of sounds, marking the pauses and the echoes of each word. I am not fully in agreement with Paul Chowder about the evils of modernism, especially since one of his targets is the popularity of 'haiku' , a form of expression I actually love, but he makes a very good argument in favor of rhyme and meter. Paul's own poems are mostly free verse, by his own admission. Start by reading a lot, of course, but sooner or later you have to get down and put some effort into it: 'You can't force it. This is probably the best, happiest moment of her poetic life, right here, while she's writing the letter to Ted Roethke, knowing she's got new poems waiting inside her. Paul Chowder is one of her champions: You have to return reality to itself after you've struggled to make a poem out of it. One argument offered by Paul, besides the one about rhyming taking us back to the first lessons in language and meaning, is this: One thing I really like about books of poems is that you can open them anywhere and you are at a beginning. The trouble starts more often when you try to make the transition from reading to writing, and here's where Paul Chowder is the most vulnerable, the most truthful, the least sarcastic or pedantic: You can start anywhere. It's a technical term from poetry, one of the discoveries of those pesky modernists (although it was in use by many poets before the twentieth century, like Milton). (source Wiki) Paul hates enjambment, most of the time, because it breaks the musical rhythm that he loves so much. According to Paul Chowder, we should take a closer look at Swinburne: If you were queen of pleasure And I were king of pain We'd hunt down love together, Pluck out his flying-feather, And teach his feet a measure, And find his mouth a rein; If you were queen of pleasure, And I were king of pain. Here's a singular critical note, more like an observation than a valid complaint: Paul Chowder doesn't claim to write here a comprehensive study of poetry. Free verse is mostly ignored, because Paul's anthology is mostly about the rhyming of English poems and the private lives of some of these poets. Spending your life concentrating on death is like watching a whole movie and thinking only about the credits that are going to roll at the end. Maybe it's better to read my lines like an anthology or a collection of poetry - start anywhere you like, in the middle, at the end or at the beginning. Paul Chowder will be waiting there to hit you over the head with a rhyme or two. I'll throw the ball back to you, Paul: It was a mistake to supress rhyme so completely, a mistake to forget about the necessary tapping of the toe, but it was a useful mistake, a beautiful mistake, because it taught us new things. The closing line I will also borrow from Paul, to thank the author for opening my doors of perception a little wider: "Suddenly, there is lots to read" ... Like any rookie I asked once an author where does he gets his ideas (in my defense of poor interview skills, I was nineteen, and I was writing short sketches and free verse in notebooks). I'll put Paul's answer in spoiler brackets, because I hope you will get to it the right way, reading from page one to page last of this novel: (view spoiler) Well, I'll tell you how. I ask myself: "What was the best moment of your day?" The wonder of it was, I told them, that this one question could lift out from my life exactly what I will want to write a poem about.

Baker defends the rhyming verse, in prose both chaste and terse. Baker is such fun hes my number one (STOP IT), I love his quirky blirky fun (STOP IT NOW), and this ones a bun of fun under the hot July sun (SHUT UP).

Even though I'm not steeped in the world of poetry, I loved this novel.

Its an unlikely combination, but when completed (to borrow a back-of-the-book blurb writers analogy) its like having witnessed a magic trick. Pauls got two problems: One, hes supposed to write an introduction to an anthology of poetry, and hes plagued by writers block. Then there is the ever daunting realization that the world is full of struggling poets, and hes not getting any younger. Hes a man of the world, but he lives in his own head most of the time. (Dont tell anyone but theres an endless amount of scholarly knowledge in there.) Yet the reason to buy this book (did I say immediately?) is that you are unlikely to find such a wonderful treasure of a novel elsewhere, a book that will perk up your reading hours, that will make you laugh and shake your head, and root for the unlikeliest of poetic heroes, Paul Chowder.

The narrator, Mr Chowder, has a fear of teaching similar to Elizabeth Bishop's: "No, no, no, no, no. I can't teach. My own dear students were destroying 'I' for me." And then, the taste, so many fine critiques, say, "Walt Whitman's preacherly ampersands.." or of Mark Strand, "exceedingly good-looking. Crew models." Of Ashberry's "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror," award studded: "I'd tried to read it a few times and failed.

There are a lot of references to poets and poetry gossip.

Paul Chowder is a minor poet and a perennial procrastinator. He provides a stunning and critical analysis of select poetry and other poets, but continually fails to write his introduction. Through Paul's extolling of meter and rhyme, his preoccupation with the definition of iambic pentameter, and the virtues of almost every aspect of verse, I received a revitalized education on the art and aesthetics of poetry. The loitering, melancholy journey of Paul Chowder and his sublime salvation through meter and verse is smart, beguiling, and tenderly irresistible.

His first-person narrative is funny, humble, sweet, and rambling - because he can't talk long without telling you something pretty neat about poetry, about meter, about enjambment or Edgar Allen Poe or Swinburne or what a good idea it is to to dance about in waltz steps to iambic pentameter. The words are making room, they're saying, Rumble, rumble, stand back now, this is going to be good." Or this: "When I look at the lives of the poets, I understand what's wrong with me. But that's not real self-torture." Paul's passion for poetry keeps this narration from sinking into greyness; it stays funny, lively, and fascinating throughout, until I wanted nothing more than for Paul to win back his short, loving, generous Roz - and finish that damned intro. Plus, he healed a long-standing wound in me by pointing out that iambic pentameter is not on five beats, but six or three, WHICH I TRIED TO TELL MY ENGLISH TEACHER IN HIGH SCHOOL (but she wouldn't listen.) Lovely, lovely book.

E la storia di Paul che viene lasciato da Roz e quindi sta proprio giĆ¹. In passato ha provato ad insegnare, senza successo, ha pubblicato una o due raccolte di poesie - abbastanza per essere invitato a qualche congresso - e sta quasi al verde. Ne esce una storia strampalata della poesia degli ultimi due secoli.