In a major review in The New Republic of John Hollander's two earlier books, Tesserae and Selected Poetry (both 1993), Vernon Shetley said, "John Hollander's poetry has shown a visionary power just often enough to secure him a place as one of the major figures of our moment."
Figurehead, a lively, varied, and technically dazzling book, confirms the statement made by Henry Taylor in the Washington Times: "John Hollander revels in technical challenges of unusual severity and complexity, yet most of his poems also have the emotional heft of something worth pausing over and remembering."
One of the most gifted of W. H. Auden's choices for the Yale Series of Younger Poets, Hollander has pursued the wide range and metrical brilliance of Auden's own poetry, so that this new book exhibits both a large compass of subject matter (from philosophical matters to personal narrative) and, as usual, some astonishing meditations on paintings--here, by Charles Sheeler, Rene Magritte, and Edward Hopper. By turns witty, touching, profound, mocking, ingenious, and always clever, Hollander's poems are a joy for the reader.
He is a modern master.
About the Author
John Hollander's first book of poems, A Crackling of Thorns, was chosen by W. H. Auden as the 1958 volume in the Yale Series of Younger Poets. Since then he has published sixteen additional books of poems including this one. He is the author of eight critical works, the most recent The Poetry of Everyday Life (1998), and a number of anthologies, among them Poems of Our Moment and Committed to Memory: 100 Best Poems to Memorize. He was a co-editor of The Oxford Anthology of English Literature and a co-editor (with Anthony Hecht, with whom he shared the Bollingen Prize in Poetry in 1983) of Jiggery-Pokery: A Compendium of Double Dactyls. He attended Columbia and Indiana Universities, was a junior fellow of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University, taught at Connecticut College and Yale, and was Professor of English at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. He is currently Sterling Professor of English at Yale. In 1990 he was made a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation.