James Laughlin has been called the American Catullus. Like that most Greek of ancient Latin poets, he elevated his everyday subjects with wit and clarity of language. Love and hate, death and aging, politics, literature, travel, the horrors of war––Laughlin's muse spoke of all these things with a fresh directness that make his poems both timeless and contemporary. The founder of New Directions, Laughlin's efforts as publisher and poet had been to prolong and extend the old poetic traditions. Poetry for him was, in Gertrude Stein's phrase, a "continuous present" in all times and cultures. Laughlin developed his distinctive tight metrics with the advice of William Carlos Williams. A longer, comical line is found in the recent poems of Laughlin's cheeky doppelganger, Hiram Handspring.
James Laughlin was the founder of New Directions and author of several collections of poetrymore »
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