Despite their differences in age-Bly was born in 1926, Ashbery in 1927, Hall in 1928, and Rich in 1929, trivial differences from the perspective of old age, but not so trivial for undergraduates-the four poets spent much time together, working on the magazine, haunting the Grolier Poetry Bookshop, drinking beer and martinis with visiting dignitaries like Eliot, Auden, and Dylan Thomas, and reciting their poems to one another. Even his recent stint as U.S. Poet Laureate is unlikely to elevate him to the first rank of contemporary poets; indeed for some it may confirm his standing as a popular bard in the same league as his predecessors Billy Collins and Ted Kooser, writing accessible poems that fail to expand or challenge the parameters of their art.
WHIZ KIDS AT EIGHTY (I)*
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