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:


An Agenda for Critics: Judgment

By: Jan Schreiber The task of the critic is judgment. I hope to unravel the complexities of judgment, as it applies to works of literature, and specifically to poetry. Those who imagine judgment to be a simple matter need only perform a small exercise to convince themselves otherwise. In the fourth act of Macbeth, Malcolm […]

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The Absolutist: The poetry and criticism of Yvor Winters

In Defense of Reason by Yvor Winters. Denver: Alan Swallow, 1947. Reprinted with an introduction by Kenneth Fields, Ohio University Press / Swallow Press, 1987. The Function of Criticism by Yvor Winters. Denver: Alan Swallow, 1957. Forms of Discovery by Yvor Winters. Denver: Alan Swallow, 1967. The Selected Poems of Yvor Winters. R. L. Barth […]

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Sapphics for Students 

All the Fun’s in How You Say a Thing: An Explanation of Meter and Versification by Timothy Steele. Swallow Press, Ohio University Press, 1999. 366 Pages ($34.95 cloth, $16.95 paper). As Reviewed By: Jan Schreiber It was recently thought that poets of our time writing in rhyme and meter were a weak and scattered lot […]

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History for the Reformation 

Missing Measures: Modern Poetry and the Revolt Against Meter by Timothy Steele. University of Arkansas Press, 1990. 349 pages. As Reviewed By: Jan Schreiber A great deal of foolishness has been written over a wide swath of history regarding the composition of poetry. Much of the critical legacy is judiciously reviewed in Timothy Steele’s book […]

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Of Phonographs and Oily Birds 

The White Lie: New and Selected Poetry by Don Paterson. Graywolf Press, 2001. 106 pages, $14.00 paperback. As Reviewed By: Jan Schreiber There are poets who tell it straight and those who are oblique. The Scottish poet Don Paterson is oblique— and you might as well get used to that at the start. Whether you […]

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Wrestling with the Angel

Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translation by William H. Gass. Basic Books, 1999. 233 pages. As Reviewed By: Jan Schreiber It is undeniable that Rilke has exercised a continuous fascination on both poets and ordinary readers in the English-speaking world since his death. William H. Gass totes up some fifteen English versions of […]

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Landscape with Banana Peels 

The Lords of Misrule: Poems, 1992-2001 by X. J. Kennedy. Johns Hopkins University Press, 93 pages. As Reviewed By: Jan Schreiber Some PhD student will one day write (or perhaps has already written) a treatise on the structural similarity between short poems and jokes. It will anatomize the tension between economy and controlled elaboration, the […]

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“Pacifier” by X. J. Kennedy

[private]her night thoughts My baby wails. That I may rest I offer him a rubber breast And soon as waves by oil suppressed, He quiets. An underhanded trick Yet practical and politic- He cries for bread. I give him brick, But when night circles round to four I open to him like a door And […]

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An Agenda for Critics: Judgment

As Reviewed By: Jan Schreiber The task of the critic is judgment. I hope to unravel the complexities of judgment, as it applies to works of literature, and specifically to poetry. Those who imagine judgment to be a simple matter need only perform a small exercise to convince themselves otherwise. In the fourth act of […]

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CPR Classic Readings

Reviewed By: Jan Schreiber Read: X. J. Kennedy’s “The Pacifier” It’s rare nowadays to find maxims and adages embedded in poems, though verses were once a common and accepted way of transmitting received wisdom. But X. J. Kennedy violates many contemporary norms and expectations in poems that wander the ill-defined territory between humorous and whimsical. […]

Posted in April 2008: X. J. Kennedy Special Issue, ReviewsComments (0)