not claiming to be a poet? he taught in an MFA program... he washeadhunted because he was a poet and a banker --John Barr, an investment banker, college professor and published poet,"John's vast experience and understanding of the business world,combined with his serious and lifelong dedication to poetry..."I would really love to hear from those who know Barr from PSA,Bennington, and Yaddo -- were they appointments mostly to fundraisefrom him?if so, these previous board appointments are very much in line withthings Monroe did to raise money for Poetry -- the error is theturnaround, seemingly from a misunderstanding -- a profound stupidityin the poetry foundation itself -- of what a board president might dodifferently as a poet / banker than a banker / poet,what one qualified previously mostly for banking, poetry being theweakness -- what to fundraise off of -- might lack that someonequalified mostly for poetry leadership, business being the weakness(knowledges and capacities which have drained time from the writing,perhaps)
From Library JournalIn his fifth book of poems, Barr (The Hundred Fathom Curve, Storyline, 1997) adopts the persona of Ibn Opcit, a Caribbean-accented poet who lards his speech with puns, witticisms, neologisms, and archaisms. The six parts of this epic add up to a linguistic tour de force, verbal playfulness reminiscent of the work of James Joyce or Anthony Burgess. Opcit is a supreme punster, playing on words like liar/lyre and wanton/wanting while cracking jokes like "Too Loose" Lautrec and "harps a chord." Weird names abound, like Linda Tantalus and Pudenda Avacado. There is even a grotesque menu featuring items like "Remonstrance of Quail" and "Sanctimonious Salad." Opcit invents these oddities while wrongfully imprisoned but rises to a profound seriousness in Part 3 (on marriage) and Part 5 (a re-telling of Genesis). Grace is a unique reading experience, guaranteed to add spice to the "glum tostada" of American poetry. Recommended for larger poetry collections.ADaniel L. Guillory, Millikin Univ., Decatur, IL Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. Book DescriptionA song of the human spirit responding to beauty and adversity, Grace is an epic poem for America at the millennium.
Grace is the master song, the last telling of Ibn Opcit, a Caribbean poet condemned to die by torture. In a series of jailhouse monologues, we hear him comment wryly on justice, on creation, on death, and on life after death:
One little theory or theorylette hold dat de longoblong of de grave is not a place of cold and silence.It be a place of popcorn and comfort. De saved get to see first runs. De lost must watch Ishtar for eternity.
"In Grace, not only does John Barr handle the demanding form of the long poem with skill and panache, but he delivers a one-of-a-kind linguistic tour de force. Spoken mostly in a Caribbean dialect and rollicking with word play, Grace achieves a riotous level of verbal inventiveness. I don't know any other work with which to compare it unless we think of it as a kind of funky Finnegan's Wake in verse with palm trees. You have never read anything quite like this wildly sustained imaginative drama. Set those one-page lyrics aside and dive into this momentous feat."-Billy Collins, author of Picnic, Lightning
"John Barr's Grace is an incredibly risky poem about white American consciousness in the instant of attempting sympathy with black American (in this case Caribbean) consciousness. This cross-cultural ambition couldn't be any more vertiginous, but that doesn't mean that it's not crucial for the regional literature. Barr's courage and zeal for the project are astonishing, and his ambition should be the wonder of writers and readers north and south of the Panama Canal."-Rick Moody, author of The Ice Storm
John Barr has pursued parallel careers as poet and investment banker for the past 25 years. He has founded the country's largest natural gas marketing company and a prominent investment-banking boutique. He is President Emeritus of the Poetry Society of America, and Chairman of the Board of Bennington College. Story Line Press published the trade edition of his first book, The Hundred Fathom Curve, in 1997. He lives with his wife and three children in Westchester Co