Delve into the genius of poet Robert Lowell as the Monday afternoon, nonfiction book group tackles Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character by Kay R. Jamison. Additional copies of this book may be checked out at the front desk. Join us Monday, March 11, at 4 PM for discussion of Boston literary legacies, so noted below in The Poetry Foundation

In Pity the Monsters: The Political Vision of Robert Lowell, Alan Williamson observes that Lowell must necessarily leave more questions of value, of cause and responsibility, of fundamental human nature open to poetic inquiry than did his nearest predecessors. But it is this very appalling fundamentalness of Lowell’s questions, combined with his honesty about historical terror, that make him a modern epic poet.

Lowell was an epic poet as well in the scope and greatness of his poetry. He addressed large questions, and he used a multiplicity of forms and styles in his continuing quest, which his friend, Peter Taylor describes in a 1979 Ploughshares essay as a search for a oneness in himself and a oneness in the world. This is how he must always be remembered, Taylor says, one moment playful to the point of violent provocation, the next in profound contemplation of the great mystery: What does life mean? What is it all about?