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. I just don’t understand most of it.” My response is usually to talk to them about the kinds of modern poem you can understand, among which I include […]

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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. The Symposium is part of Writing the Rockies, a conference affiliated with Western’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. As was the case last year, the […]

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 […]

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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. It would be wrong to treat the book as a syllogism deriving the importance of love from its improbability and our […]

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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 […]

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.  The impulse behind the seminar, which we plan to hold each year, was a growing sense that critical writing – by which we […]

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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 […]

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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. […]

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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. But it may take a while. There’s not really a typical Snodgrass poem that will immediately give a sense of the man and the […]

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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). Such seemingly less self-conscious verse shares many qualities with prose. It is […]

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