By Harold Bloom
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Extra resources for African-American Poets, Volume 2, New Edition (Bloom's Modern Critical Views)
In a witty reformulation of Anne Carson’s reformulation of Sappho’s glukopikron (sweetbitter), “Eros is bitter, and bitterly proud” (“About a Boy”). Eros, cupid-like, seems to hover somewhere behind the encounter, impelling it but not of it. “Poor Eros. ” So too, the observer/desirer in these poems has a curious relation to his desire: feeling it, but not quite generating it. Â€. sky / meets the sky”: encounters all, but particularly in the first three of the four sections of the book, the events seem to occur without regard for the observer, the desirer, the body marked by them.
Harper’s “Uplift” poems make clear reference to the fact that he composed them during his stay at Yaddo, the well-known writers’ colony in Saratoga Springs, New York. During his use of the tower studio in the mansion-style, nineteenth-century house, Harper is an indirect beneficiary of Spencer Trask and Katrina (Kate Nichols) Trask, a wealthy couple who purchased the estate in 1881 and eventually set up a trust to establish the colony. Â€. Â€. ” (193). The exhilarated tone seems indicative of Katrina Trask’s enthusiastic and romantic sense of life; it is decidedly in contrast to the fact-packed syntax in Harper’s poems.
It also parallels Katrina Trask’s buoyant but ironic wish for artists to engage in leisured, elegant creating on the grounds of her estate. For, in another poem of Harper’s “Uplift” series, “Dining from a Treed Condition, An Historical History as Moral Ecology in the Poetry of Michael S. Harper 45 Survey,” we learn that the first white owner of the land was Jacobus Barhyte, a Revolutionary War officer who was an “American patriot” (33); he was also a slaveholder. The ease and luxury Trask described will rest atop the labor—and so the bodies—of those eighteenth-century slaves who worked the land.
African-American Poets, Volume 2, New Edition (Bloom's Modern Critical Views) by Harold Bloom