States of the Art: Selected Essays, Interviews, and Other Prose: 1975-2014 collects the sharp-eyed and graceful prose of Charles North, whom the poet James Schuyler called “the most stimulating poet of his generation.” Although North’s special focus is the New York School, the collection includes pieces on many vibrant figures in the arts: modern poets like Ashbery, Bishop, Creeley, Guest, O’Hara, and Schuyler; undersung ones like Joseph Ceravolo, Frank Lima, F.T. Prince, David Schubert, Tony Towle, Paul Violi, and John Wheelwright; painters Rackstraw Downes, Manet, Alma Thomas, Richard Tuttle, Trevor Winkfield, among others; critics Harold Bloom, Fairfield Porter, and Helen Vendler.
According to Mark Ford, “North combines an insider’s knowledge of what really matters in poetry with an enviable ability to communicate his enthusiasms and discoveries in lucid, compelling terms. Urbane, witty, never afraid to challenge received wisdom, North is an ideal guide to the immeasurable surprises lurking in the poetry of both the canonical and the overlooked.”
“From just about every angle,” North writes, “poetry is richer and messier than many on the outside would have it.” Insider or outsider, welcome to the richness and the life-sustaining “mess” so lovingly and intelligently tended by Charles North.