I first met Dickey in 1981 and corresponded with him for ten years.
As a boy in high shoes and leggings, Dickey pedals furiously on a bicycle that's resting on its stand, and in the Poe Museum he writes with a stuffed raven on his shoulder.
Hart doesn't realize that Dickey was invited to the White House to meet Leopold Senghor because the African statesman was also a distinguished poet.
Impatient with his civilized self as well as with his repressed and respectable audience, Dickey often thought: "What is the worst thing I can say or do at the moment?
Dickey also had to compete with his dead--and therefore perfect--older brother as well as with a younger brother who was a much better athlete.
Dickey was lying on the floor, cursing, and banging his fists up and down, and the girl [in his bed] was saying, "That's all right, Jim.
Dickey once told me that a biographer should be "an investigative reporter of the spirit.
In his self-reflective essay on Roethke, Dickey asked:
Yet Dickey himself, creating a Roethkean persona of a poet who hung around with tough guys and was pretty tough himself, brought his aggressive and competitive instincts, reinforced by sports and business, into the world of poetry.
Dickey proclaimed himself capo di tutti capi after Berryman threw himself off a cold Yankee bridge and Lowell became crackers.
Incisive about his own failings but unable to help himself, Dickey observed:
After teaching brilliantly at Rice, Florida, Reed, and San Fernando State, in 1968 Dickey finally got a permanent post at the University of South Carolina--another third-rate university in an extremely dreary town.
With the death of James Dickey we have LOST an entertaining and uncommonly powerful voice for poetry as well as the author of at least a dozen or more of the most dramatically lyric American poems written since World War II.
Dickey would have been pleased with his obituaries, the kind that only major writers receive; but the reference was always to the author of Deliverance.
Robert Kirschten's collection of essays, the first new book in print since Dickey's death, reveals that Dickey has always had his distinguished supporters, Harold Bloom, Robert Penn Warren, Monroe K.