Eighty-one poems spanning the career of the late George Starbuck, widely praised luminary of modern American verse.
Starbuck was known in his lifetime and is remembered today as a practitioner of verse remarkable for its pathos, intelligence, and wit. A master of American vernacular, sensitive to the rhythms of everyday speech, Starbuck was also a brilliant lyricist, at once erudite and irreverent. He addressed some of the most profound issues of his day with a playful ingenuity and a virtuosity of talent that Glyn Maxwell, poetry editor of the New Republic, writing in The Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Poetry, calls a "veritable arsenal of strategies against the darkness."
Starbuck came to wide critical notice in 1960 with the publication of his first book, Bone Thoughts, which won the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize. He published work regularly in the New Yorker and other major literary journals in the United States. His work was consistently recognized with awards, among them the Prix de Rome, an Ingram-Merrill Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, the Beth Hokin Prize, a Notable Book of the Year designation from the New York Times, the Lenore Marshall poetry prize, and an Aiken-Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award.
Grouped together by decades, the poems reveal Starbuck's developing genius. His technical agility and his singular voice are evident. As Anthony Hecht declares in his foreword, "I come to this posthumous collection with serene and justified confidence in finding enormous pleasure, astonishment, admiration, and genuine satisfaction. [This book] is a generous sampling of a profound poetic legacy, one for which readers ought to be deeply grateful."