RaveHyperallergicThe nimble verses of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa...brim with erudition. But Komunyakaa’s vast scholarly interests—ancient myths, historical figures and botanical studies—intersect with the mundane and vernacular ... His childhood memories of the segregated South account for some of the book’s strongest poems ... Komunyakaa often returns to the tension between learned knowledge and the intuitive knowing that comes from one’s earthly experience ... Some of these riveting verses join intimacy with death ... [a] clipped, rhythmic style ... When pared down, as in the war sonnets...such musicality takes on a more somber, dirge-like tone ... poetry’s highest calling isn’t truth-telling, after all, but instead stirring our empathic imagination.
RaveHyperallergicBiographies of artists are an unwieldy yet wildly rewarding genre, with authors heroically flexing their muscles to do justice to both the personal histories and artworks of their subjects. Fiona MacCarthy’s thick and scrupulously researched Walter Gropius: Visionary Founder of the Bauhaus is no exception ... MacCarthy’s middle chapters more than do justice to Gropius’s visionary approach to architecture as a complete, totalizing art ... MacCarthy regales readers with wonderful details ... MacCarthy also peppers her tale with the first grumbles of discontent, possibly peer envy, among Bauhaus circles ... Throughout, MacCarthy presents a mostly wholesome image of Gropius as a consummate, apolitical artist, but she does make note of some of his flaws ... Walter Gropius is a luminous, vigorous study of a prodigiously gifted man driven by singular passion.