Harping On: Poems 1985–1995

Carolyn Kizer

Carolyn Kizer presents ten years of poetry in Harping On. Kizer’s concerns have remained constant while she has honed her technical skills and broadened her vision.
“She is all woman and all poet, and as a poet she is consummately skilled, literary, ebullient, and daring to the nth degree; she choirs it all out there: loves, passions, vanities, peeves, humor, parody—the whole gorgeous shebang.” —
Poetry Flash

ISBN: 9781556591150

Format: Paperback

Cultural Evolution

           after Pope

When from his dark cave, young Mao in his youthful mind
A work to renew old China first designed,
Then he alone interpreted the law,
And from traditional fountains scorned to draw:
But when to examine every part he came,
Marx and Confucius turned out much the same.

About the Author

Carolyn Kizer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, was educated at Sarah Lawrence College and was a fellow of the Chinese Government in Comparative Literature at Columbia University. In 1959, she co-founded Poetry Northwest and was its editor until 1965. She served as the first director of the Literature Program at the National Endowment for the Arts (1966–1970), was a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and served as poet-in-residence at Columbia, Stanford, and Princeton. She died in …

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“We have no finer poet writing today, and very few her equal.” —San Francisco Review of Books

“One of the best poets around… a national treasure.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Kizer employs everything from slanted rhymes to venerable forms with a chatty grace that makes the intricacy of her structures all but invisible… This is priceless, quintessential Kizer.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Kizer is a breathtakingly adroit formalist who can spin out a pantoum, sonnet, villanelle, or terza rima seemingly effortlessly. Of course, content and attitude are what make poems compelling, and humanitarian radical and long-haul feminist Kizer offers plenty of those to animate her technical brio… engaging, multifaceted, magnetically re-readable.” —Booklist, starred review

“Carolyn Kizer’s Harping On is a jewel of a book.” —Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook

“[Kizer’s] range is, quite simply, dazzling… This volume is a tour de force of form and content… Kizer gives her readers provocative light verse and narrative lyrics that are… searing and elegiac… Here is a voice that can be rollicking on [sic] one poem and movingly elegiac in another. Yet never waver from its defining tone of intelligence and grace.” —Calapooya Collage

“Kizer speaks for us in a golden voice, richly humorous and wise.” —World Literature Today

“In a time when all manner of boundaries are blurring, Kizer’s work consistently rewards with intricately realized distinctions that emerge through her inventive braiding of structure and narrative… If you agree that poets create culture, place yourself for a time in the hands of this writer… a uniquely contemporary voice.” —Solo

“[Kizer] has given us a collection that, despite its cold eye on the mess we’ve made of the world, is a joy to read.” —Houston Chronicle

“There are few poets who write with as much intelligence and sophistication as Kizer. She deserves a wider readership.” —Library Journal

“Perhaps the most distinctive qualities of the verse gathered in Carolyn Kizer’s Harping On… are sly wit, verbal bounce and strong conviction… [Kizer] once again demonstrates enviable technical mastery infused with irreverent and colloquial dash… The poems gathered in this impressive collection, displaying a range of subject matter, technique and tone, give witness to an honest, clear-eyed and compassionate woman of enduring poetic gifts.” —America Magazine

“Kizer makes her poems with unusual care and technical brilliance… Kizer’s poetry moves among line-lengths and meters ranging from the various and non-existent to the regular and strict, in a style suggestive of conversation—albeit immensely sophisticated and compassionate.” —Hollins Critic

“Kizer is a breathtakingly adroit formalist who can spit our pantoum, sonnet, villanelle or terza rima seemingly effortlessly… Rich in emotion… elegant in technique: engaging, multifaceted, magnetically re-readable.” —Booklist

“Only the seamless craftsmanship of these sprightly poems, full of high and low comedy, radical humanitarian passion, and feminist insight, betray the fact that Kizer, very much at the height of her powers, is one of America’s senior poets.” —Booklist

Harping On… evidences an ambidextrous gift.” —Boston Review

“The harping herein is both musical and pointed. It is also audaciously rhyme-schemed in many instances, and outrageously funny in others… throughout her career, Kizer has pecked and pried into the societal cracks she sees increasingly widening. You can count on her.” —Caesura

“Carolyn Kizer’s poetry, mature yet sprightly, is highly entertaining and deeply moving… Kizer’s poems are like old friends who come to the party with stories never before told, or never told this well… It is easy to forget just how intelligent, wry, tonic, powerful, and tender Kizer can be. There is an easiness about her manner, an invitation that makes readers feel so welcome that they are caught off-guard when the menu is not quite as expected and the music does not stay in the background… [Kizer] well may be the most representative and lasting feminine voice of the second half of the twentieth century.” —Magill Book Reviews

“[Kizer’s] new book dramatically illustrates her broad formal knowledge of poetry; her knowledge of and sharp-edged compassion for our world. Her style is purely her own.” —Poetry Flash