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Richardson, James 1950–

Richardson, James 1950–

PERSONAL: Born January 1, 1950, in Bradenton, FL; son of James E. (an engineer) and Betty (Behrer) Richardson. Education: Princeton University, A.B. (summa cum laude), 1971; University of Virginia, M.A., 1973, Ph.D., 1975.

ADDRESSES: Office—Creative Writing Program, Princeton University, 185 Nassau St., Princeton, NY 08544; fax: 609-258-2230. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, assistant professor of English, 1975–80; Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, lecturer, 1980–89, associate professor, 1989–94, professor of English, 1994—director of creative writing program, 1981–90. Seminar presenter; conference and workshop participant.

AWARDS, HONORS: National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, 1977–78; artist's fellowships, New Jersey Council on the Arts, between 1985 and 2002; Poetry Society of America, Robert H. Winner Award, 1991, for "Out of School," Cecil Hemley Award, 1996, for "A Disquisition upon the Soul"; National Poetry Series winner, 1991; Smart Family Foundation Award, 1996, for "Under Water"; award in literature, American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2002; nomination for National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry, 2004, for Interglacial: New and Selected Poems and Aphorisms.

WRITINGS:

Reservations (poetry), Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1977.

Thomas Hardy: The Poetry of Necessity, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1977.

Second Guesses: Poems, Wesleyan University Press (Middletown, CT), 1984.

Vanishing Lives: Style and Self in Tennyson, D.G. Rossetti, Swinburne, and Yeats, University Press of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA), 1988.

As If (poetry), Persea Books (New York, NY), 1992.

A Suite for Lucretians (poetry book), Quarterly Review of Literature (Princeton, NJ), 1999.

How Things Are: Poems, Carnegie Mellon University Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 2000.

Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, Ausable Press (Keene, NY), 2001.

Interglacial: New and Selected Poems and Aphorisms, Ausable Press (Keene, NY), 2004.

Work represented in anthologies, including Arthurian Women: A Casebook, edited by Thelma Fenster, Garland Publishing (New York, NY), 1996; The Best American Poetry 2001, edited by Robert Hass and David Lehman, Scribner (New York, NY), 2002; Poetry Daily: 366 Poems from the World's Most Popular Website, Sourcebooks, 2003; Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present, edited by David Lehman, Scribner (New York, NY), 2003; and The Best American Poetry 2005, edited by David Lehman and Paul Muldoon, Scribner (New York, NY), 2005. Contributor of poetry, articles, and reviews to periodicals, including Paris Review, Yale Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Formalist, Troubador, Kelsey Review, Ploughshares, Ontario Review, Boulevard, and Lilliput Review.

SIDELIGHTS: James Richardson's first poetry collection, Reservations, explores the awareness of mortality and the self-disillusionment that comes with it. In his second collection, As If, he continues the theme to create what Denise Sticha called in a Library Journal review a "melancholy yet richly crafted collection." Sticha compared Richardson's work to the shorter poetry of Wallace Stevens, but noted that it lacks Stevens's acceptance of death as an inevitable part of the life cycle. Booklist critic Thomas Phelps also noted an emphasis on nature in As If, and suggested that the work "springs lithely from the Romantic tradition." Yet Phelps also found an important difference between Richardson's work and that of the Romantics, in that his "connection to nature is juxtaposed against the realities of late-twentieth-century life." For example, the poem "Blue Heron, Winter Thunder" depicts a plane crash; another, "Fog," describes the beauty of the mist but also includes a fatal car crash caused by the fog. "A startling view of nature and natural destruction," concluded Phelps.

A Publishers Weekly reviewer found that the poems in As If spring from "depicting things as if they were other things…. This 'will to be surprised,' this relentless recomposition of reality through perception uncovers the unusual at the heart of the ordinary…. Richardson's best lines possess a halting, Dickinsonian quality." Poetry contributor Ben Howard found Richardson's vision to be a "chastened, weary" one of "the 'cheap dreams' of suburbia, the aftermath of passion, the pathos of unbelief. Taking the stance of the disillusioned post-romantic, consigned to solitude and void of spiritual consolation, he rejects any notion of correspondences between the human and natural worlds." Howard further analyzed: "Richardson's doubts and ambivalences have their counterparts in his syntax, which is, by turns, fragmented, convoluted, hypotactic, and telegraphic." Howard concluded that As If is an "accomplished but disheartening book" that leaves the reader "with the impression of a powerful sedan, its well-tuned engine idling, its driver uncertain as to where he wants to go." Sticha summarized that in As If, "the sincerity and often brutal honesty with which the poet examines his life is compelling."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Literary Review, spring, 2002, pp. 122-126.

Barrow Street, winter, 2002, p. 94.

Booklist, April 15, 1992, Thomas Phelps, review of As If, p. 1498.

Boston Review, summer, 2002, Brenda Shaughnessy, review of Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, p. 66.

Georgia Review, spring, 1993; summer, 2002, pp. 607-608.

Harvard Review, fall, 1992.

Library Journal, May 1, 1992, Denise Sticha, review of As If, p. 86.

Poetry, June, 1985; January, 1993, Ben Howard, review of As If, p. 231.

Publishers Weekly, March 2, 1992, review of As If, p. 61.

Rain Taxi, winter, 2002, Hank Lazer, review of Vectors, p. 45.

Times Literary Supplement, December 7, 2001, p. 10; January 3, 2003, Rachel Hadas, review of Vectors, p. 27.

Wisconsin Bookwatch, January, 2005, review of Interglacial: New and Selected Poems and Aphorisms.

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