A master of the lyric, Alfred Corn is also adept at working in forms, and has published several books featuring long poetic sequences, including a book-length narrative poem modeled on Dante's ""Divine Comedy"". Alfred Corn is at once one of the most learned and the most accessible of contemporary poets, whose work demonstrates a Whitmanesque inclusiveness of myriad aspects of contemporary life, while deploying a formidable prosodic expertise in received and invented forms and meters. Corn is also a polymath, with knowledge and interests extending to music, theater, and the graphic arts. Even though the essays gathered here are all literary in nature, a knowledge of history, of religion, and of the arts underpins every piece, producing a breadth of scope that is refreshing and unpredictable.Essays range from the poet/critic's personal, epistolary encounter with Flannery O'Connor, to his reassessment of Auden's Christmas oratorio, to his lively look at the ""Canterbury Tales"" and his retrospective consideration of Wordsworth. While many such essay collections limit themselves to the modern and contemporary periods, Corn's enthusiasm for Chaucer and Keats is as fresh and inquisitive as that which he holds for Bishop, Thomas Gunn, or Derek Mahon. Corn's engaging, probing pieces will have the inevitable effect of sending the reader back to the original texts with new insights and new questions.
Alfred Corn is the author of twelve books of poems, including Stake: Selected Poems, 1972-1992, and Contradictions. He has also published a novel and four works of literary criticism, including The Metamorphoses of Metaphor. Corn has received fellowships and prizes from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and the Academy of American Poets. He lives in Hudson, New York.