James Whitcomb Riley: Works and Criticism

A Child-World by James Whitcomb Riley
Copyright 1896, 1972 reprint
Checked out 6 times in 38 years
Last checked out 13 years ago

This book contains homey poems much of which is in a dialect so thick it’s difficult to read and doesn’t offer much reward for struggling through it. Riley was a popular poet in his day but his appeal hasn’t extended forward to us here in the 21st Century, as is seen in the circulation, which isn’t as bad as it could be but is not enough to keep a minor poet on the shelves. Let this go.

James Whitcomb Riley by Peter Revell
Copyright 1970
Checked out 4 times in 41 years
Last checked out 21 years ago

In this examination of the work of Riley, Revell begins with an explanation of why he would write a book on such a “minor” and “lightweight” figure in American poetry. His rationale seems to be simply that Riley’s poetry was extremely popular in his lifetime. So this isn’t so much a critical examination as a historical look at a poet and why he was popular at a given time. The poor circulation of this volume reflects the lack of continued interest in Riley’s poetry even more than the book of Riley’s poems. Go ahead and let this go.


About jppoetryreader

Poetry reviewer and poetry consultant for libraries
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