About Sunil Iyengar

Sunil Iyengar, a poet, writer and editor in Washington, D.C., is a board member of the American Poetry & Literacy Project. His essays and reviews have appeared in Verse, The American Scholar, New York Times, Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle.


Sunil Iyengar Has written the following articles:


Dennis O’Driscoll (1954-2012): An Appreciation

Until recently, Dennis O’Driscoll was among the few living poets I most wanted to meet. He was also the only such poet whose writings I barely knew. Yet shortly after his sudden death on December 24, 2012 (a week shy of his 59th birthday), I resolved to fill this gap in the coming year. I […]

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“Sleeping in a Hobo Jungle Can Be a Dangerous Thing”: A Conversation with Richard Wilbur

More than half a century has elapsed since Richard Wilbur, still prolific at 87, won his first Pulitzer Prize. The extraordinary qualities of that statement should be highlighted for readers who claim there are no incontrovertible giants on the American poetry scene. Wilbur’s most recent book, Collected Poems: 1943-2004, has prompted a widespread critical reassessment […]

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Tom Disch: Work Ethicist of American Poetry

As Reviewed By: Sunil Iyengar “A spiritual life doesn’t require taking Holy Orders, only a decision to submit to a lifelong discipline.” – Thomas M. Disch, 1940-2008 Few American poet-critics since Edgar Allan Poe have brought a practitioner’s knowledge of writing genre fiction to the service of poetry reviewing. It is a commonplace and, like […]

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Louis MacNeice: “His Own Unchanging Self”

An Interview with Jon Stallworthy Interview By: Sunil Iyengar Jon Stallworthy’s blood quickened after a poetry reading he gave earlier this year, not because he admired his own recitative powers, but because of something an audience member told him. This man, who turned out to be Stephen Spender’s nephew, had found a sheaf of letters […]

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The Other Wiman

As Reviewed By: Sunil Iyengar The Long Home by Christian Wiman. Story Line Press, 1998. Hard Night by Christian Wiman. Copper Canyon Press, 2005. When the mantle of Poetry editor descended on the 37-year-old Christian Wiman in 2003, many a poet-critic burned with envy. Never had the garb seemed so attractive: with a share of Ruth […]

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Pounding the Catalogue

As Reviewed By: Sunil Iyengar A Review of “Ezra Pound in His Time and Beyond: The Influence of Ezra Pound on Twentieth-Century Poetry.” Special Collections Exhibit, University of Delaware Library, curated by Jesse Rossa; catalogue published by the University of Delaware Library. May a woody and sequestered place cover me with its foliage Or may […]

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Resistance and “Sweet Traction”: Heaney as a Poet of the Underground

As Reviewed By: Sunil Iyengar Read “District and Circle” here at The Times Online Seamus Heaney has become so institutionalized that it is virtually impossible for him ever to reclaim outsider status. Yet equivocations at the borderline have always crossed into his best work. Consider: his subsistence as a poet, teacher, and intellectual during the Troubles […]

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A Further Range

Robert Frost’s two-and-a-half year sojourn in England (1912-1915) made him as a poet. After a long apprenticeship in New Hampshire, he placed his first book, A Boy’s Will, with a London publisher, thrilled the Georgian poets with his rustic New England facade, met W. B. Yeats, and cultivated a crucial friendship with English pastoral poet Edward […]

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Confidence Artist

As Reviewed By: Sunil Iyengar Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver. Boston: Beacon Press, 2004. 71 pages. The trick of transparency, like all sleight of hand, does not admit close scrutiny. To tag the parts of a poem that render its effects invisible is a paradoxical aim, akin to explaining a joke. Conversely, it […]

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The Civilized Yawp

As Reviewed By: Sunil Iyengar Fourteen On Form: Conversations with Poets by William Baer. University Press of Mississippi. 265 pages. The liveliest moment in William Baer’s collection of table-talk occurs in an interview with Douglas Dunn at St. Andrews University. The author of Elegies (1985), that masterful tribute to a dead spouse, recounts his poetic debt […]

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