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of the 2003 Turning Point Poetry Prize: The Mystery of Max Schmitt,
Poems on the Life of Thomas Eakins by Philip Dacey
The Mystery of Max Schmitt: Poems on the Life and Work of Thomas Eakins by Philip Dacey is a remarkable sequence about the nineteenth-century painter. Dacey constructs both a fascinating narrative of Eakins’ world and a searching meditation on the relationships between art and life, between teachers and students, and the quest to live a fully-engaged existence.
Sample Poems by Philip Dacey
"Within the formal miracles of his poems, Philip Dacey unfolds a visceral biography of a great painter, Thomas Eakins. Dacey's triumph comes as he unmasks, investigates, probes, and paints in words the painter's soul."--Molly Peacock
book-length sequence dealing with Thomas Eakins should be read straight
through, beginning to end, to discover what a brilliant achievement it
is. Dacey is one of our best long-distance runners, as unflagging as he
is surprising, and he couldn’t have chosen a better subject or structure.”—David
“The sequence of poems in Philip Dacey’s The Mystery of Max Schmitt: Poems on the Life and Work of Thomas Eakins is part biography, part ekphrasis, and a complete tribute. Dacey’s uncompromising and radical voice is a perfect match for Eakins’s uncompromising and radical painting. Dacey’s ‘portraits’ salvage Eakins’s burned photographs and lost lectures, re-imagine Eakins into the world of film, and animate the subjects of his work. The Mystery of Max Schmitt is an extraordinary and splendid salutation.”—Denise Duhamel
“Phil Dacey has been working profitably and pleasurefully for years toward blending literary and artistic biography with lush lyricism, and toward blending the feel of loose, open possibility with the infrastructure of traditional forms. This Eakins book is the apotheosis of that lovely search, and we’re all its beneficiaries.”—Albert Goldbarth
“With vivid details, formal dexterity and a chorus of voices, Dacey has revealed in this splendid book not only the world of Thomas Eakins, but that haunting, borderless world where imagination meets influence.”—Linda Bierds
Philip Dacey is the author of seven previous full-length books of poems, the latest The Deathbed Playboy (Eastern Washington U. Press, 1999), and numerous chapbooks. His awards include three Pushcart Prizes, a Discovery Award from the New York YM-YWHA's Poetry Center, many fellowships (Fulbright to Yugoslavia, Woodrow Wilson to Stanford, National Endowment for the Arts, Minnesota State Arts Board, Bush Foundation, Loft-McKnight), and prizes for individual poems from Yankee, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, Kansas Quarterly, Cumberland Poetry Review, Nebraska Review, and others. Co-editor with David Jauss of Strong Measures: Contemporary American Poetry in Traditional Forms (Harper & Row, 1986), he has presented his poetry--which appears in over one hundred anthologies--in more than half of the fifty states and served as Distinguished Poet in Residence, Wichita State U. (1985); Distinguished Visiting Writer, U. of Idaho (1999); and Eddice B. Barber Visiting Writer, Minnesota State U. at Mankato (2003). A native of St. Louis, Missouri, a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Sixties, and the father of three grown children, he moved at the end of 2004 from Minnesota, where he taught for many years at the state university in Marshall, to Manhattan's Upper West Side.
ISBN 1932339469, 96 pages, $17.00