Synopses & Reviews
Dave Oliphant is widely considered the finest poetry critic ever produced by Texas. This volume brings together some 40 years of essays, articles, and reviews on the topic of Texas poetry -- its history as well as addressing individual poets and their books. Only one other book in the last two decades addressed the topic, and Generations of Texas Poets is larger, more comprehensive, and of superior literary quality. In 1971, Larry McMurtry famously descried the lack of good Texas poetry; Oliphant has spent a lifetime nurturing it, publishing it, and has become its best critic.
“Oliphant writes as if he were all alone in the wilderness of his own country reading the only copy of a precious book—he does not depend upon an audience to agree with him, and thus puts everything into the quiet polemics of sermon. But he covers an amazing range of books. . . . He has hoofed the circuit many years now and . . . . [searched] the main avenues of culture in our state. . . . One would do [well] to learn at his side—for he dutifully tracks the writers great and small, and is the assiduous reader of each text he writes about.” —Paul Christensen, in Texas Writers’ Newsletter (1983)
“The voice that emerges from this collection [On a High Horse] belongs neither to crank nor saint, but to an isolated and prophetic soul who patiently launches forth ‘filament, filament, filament out of itself’ (to call forth Whitman’s kindred spirit) with a concern that is passionate, visionary, stubborn, and prickly—sometimes simultaneously. . . . The point of connection beyond these contradictions lies in the larger artistic framework Oliphant creates for both his negative criticism and his praise. . . . What makes his attitude a valuable point of reference for the rest of us lies in his very fine abilities to analyze and interpret poetry.” —Lynn Hoggard, The Pawn Review (1984)
“Resolutely committed to the practice of poetry, Dave Oliphant has for years edited anthologies of Texas verse as well as written ample quantities of his own. In numerous essays, he also has staked a claim to being a strong advocate for nativistic poetic voices and subject matter, which is another way of saying that in this time of shifting cosmopolitanism, he is a regionalist.” —Don Graham, Dallas Times Herald (1986)
“As his excellent new anthology [Roundup] confirms, Oliphant has contributed significantly to the development of poetry in Texas, and he is not slowing down. He has in some ways been a maverick, making his own way; but in other ways he has been valiantly communal—celebrating and supporting poets in a state that offers little support.” —Lyman Grant, The Texas Observer (1999)
“When it comes to Texas literature, there has never been a greater champion of the state’s poetry than Dave Oliphant. . . . [He] has established himself firmly as the most knowledgeable and vigorous cataloguer of Texas poets and their work.”—Roger Jones, in Texas Books in Review (2001)
About the Author
Dave Oliphant, a native Texas poet, was for 18 years the editor of The Library Chronicle at the University of Texas at Austin; in 2006 he retired from the University as a senior lecturer in Writing and Rhetoric. For 25 years he was the editor/publisher of Prickly Pear Press, and is a noted writer on the history of Texan jazz. His recent books include a collection of essays, Jazz Mavericks of the Lone Star State; and a collection of his own poetry, The Cowtown Circle. His volume, The Pilgrimage: Selected Poems, 1962-2012, was published in 2013 by Lamar University Press. Dave Oliphant’s 548-page memoir, Harbingers of Books to Come: A Texan’s Literary Life, and his book-length poem on Texas trumpeter Kenny Dorham, KD: a Jazz Biography, were both published by Wings Press.