Paul Christensen: Portrait of the Artist | James Dickey

Vox Populi

I have long admired the poet James Dickey. He was popular in the ‘60s with his muscular, fear-nothing lyrics in early books like Drowning with Others and Helmets, which vividly narrate his Army Air Force days in WWII and the Korean Conflict. I was a young reader when I came upon him and may not have understood much of what he was saying in those powerful later poems in Buckdancer’s Choice, but I did note the clean rhythms, the force that drove his phrases down the page.

In a stable of boats I lie still,

From all sleeping children hidden.

The leap of a fish from its shadow

Makes the whole lake instantly tremble.

With my foot on the water, I feel

The moon outside. (“The Lifeguard”)

He had learned compression as an advertising writer in Atlanta. One of his accounts was Coca Cola, headquartered nearby. “I sold…

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