Visionaries and Outcasts: The NEA, Congress, and the Place of the Visual Arts in America, by Michael Brenson. The New Press, 157 pages, $25.00.
In the United States, we like our artists nobly bereft, taking literally
Percy Bysshe Shelley's description of poets as "the unacknowledged legislators of
the world." When artists stoop to seek acknowledgment, the priestly skullcaps
fall off. Yikes! These are just people who--like us--want to be famous, or at
least pay for mammograms and send the kids to college. We'd like to see artists
go on working--but won't subsidy, especially from prosaic, real-life legislators,
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay By Nancy Milford. Random House, 550 pages, $29.95
What Lips My Lips Have Kissed: The Loves and Love Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay
By Daniel Mark Epstein. Henry Holt and Company, 300 pages, $25.00
The Selected Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay
Edited and with an introduction by Nancy Milford. Modern Library, 167 pages, $16.95
The lyric gift is hard to sustain. How can you keep all that tension on the emotional string without stiffening into routines of feeling or, as poet Edna St. Vincent Millay did, tightening, tightening till it all goes pop?