About Jan Schreiber

Jan Schreiber is a poet and critic. His books include Digressions, Wily Apparitions, and Bell Buoys, as well as two books of translations: A Stroke upon the Sea and Sketch of a Serpent. His poems and reviews have appeared in the Hudson Review, the Southern Review, Agenda, the Formalist, and many other publications, as well as on-line journals and anthologies. A song cycle, Zeno’s Arrow, based on seven of his poems, was composed by Paul Alan Levi and premiered in 2001.


Jan Schreiber Has written the following articles:


Stalking the Typical Poem

When I tell people I teach and – God help me – even write poetry, they often say, “I wish you could explain modern poetry to me.… continue reading...

Posted in Essays, This MonthComments (4)

Preface: Second Annual Symposium on Poetry Criticism

Last July, a distinguished group of poets who are also critics gathered at Western State College of Colorado, in Gunnison, for the Second Annual Symposium on Poetry Criticism.… continue reading...

Posted in November 2011: Poetry Criticism Conference, This MonthComments (1)

Sources of Delight: What We Respond to When We Respond to Poetry by Jan Schreiber

When I was seventeen years old and barely aware of poetry, with no idea what good poetry might be, or even what if anything might please me, a friend, just back from his English class, rushed breathlessly into my room at boarding school, book in hand, and cried, “Listen to this!”

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level | underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing .

continue reading...

Posted in Essays, November 2011: Poetry Criticism Conference, This MonthComments (1)

Don Paterson’s Improbable Distances

Reviewed:  Rain by Don Paterson. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009. 61 pages.

What we most love we must lose. That implacable fact of human existence is the ground bass of Don Paterson’s excellent book Rain.… continue reading...

Posted in Reviews, This MonthComments (1)

Poetry and the Problem of Standards

“Building my work, I build myself.”

–  Paul Valéry

“Thought tends to collect in pools.”

– Wallace Stevens

Ordinary readers, literary editors, and some English professors confront an inescapable question of judgment: In principle, is it possible, faced with an overwhelming body of work in print, to cull out excellent poems in the way one can cull out fine diamonds or superb soufflés?… continue reading...

Posted in November 2010: Poetry Criticism Conference, This MonthComments (4)

Special Issue Introduction: Poetry Criticism

The six papers which will appear this week in the CPR were all delivered on July 31, 2010, at the first annual Western State College Seminar on Poetry Criticism, in Gunnison, Colorado. … continue reading...

Posted in November 2010: Poetry Criticism Conference, This MonthComments (1)

In the Details

Chinese Apples: New and Selected Poems by W. S. Di Piero. Knopf, 2007. 247 pp.

As Reviewed By: Jan Schreiber

A hardy strain of poets in America feels that the craft of poetry is often too crafty, that the verse line need be nothing more than a space in which to say something striking, and that elevated diction will cut the poet off from his readers, who are in fact his peers.… continue reading...

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What has Five Feet and Lives Forever?

Blank Verse: A Guide to Its History and Use by Robert B. Shaw. Ohio University Press, 2007. 305 pages.

As Reviewed By: Jan Schreiber

A bright woman of my acquaintance, educated in a field far from literature, recently asked me what poetry anthology I would recommend to help her become better acquainted with contemporary writing.… continue reading...

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Unguided and Apart: the Achievement of W.D.

Not for Specialists: New and Selected Poems by W.D. Snodgrass. BOA Editions, 2006.

As Reviewed By: Jan Schreiber

Have you boned up on your Snodgrass? There’s no time like the present.… continue reading...

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Farther South Than This

Jack and Other New Poems by Maxine Kumin. Norton, 2005.

There is a kind of poem that tastemakers and status jockeys tend to ignore: one neither difficult (because highly figurative, allusive, multilayered) nor terse and formal (with every syllable required to justify itself).… continue reading...

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