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Classic Rough News

With a half-dozen books of poetry published to date, Kenneth Fields distills some forty years of teaching and writing about poetry into Classic Rough News, a collection of fresh sonnets and sonnet-like lyrics that attests to both Fields’s skills as a writer and the inexhaustible possibilities of the form.

Classic Rough News follows a skeptical, cosmopolitan, intelligent, poetic presence aware that its carefully constructed veneer could crumble at any moment. In poems that mine interior dialogue for the discovery of great truths, Fields conveys feelings of awkwardness, incompleteness, conflict, and insanity-all in finely crafted verse. Ironic and skeptical, the voice in these poems records the flux of the mind, ruefully acknowledging how easy it is to deceive oneself with mixed emotions. Fully mature and unconcerned about impressions, Classic Rough News is grounded in erudition and humor, revealing how tradition and talent can push one another in unexpected directions.

Read an excerpt.

72 pages | 6 1/8 x 8 1/2 | © 2005

Phoenix Poets

Literature and Literary Criticism: British and Irish Literature



"These wonderful poems offer a rare mix of the highest lyric craft in the service of a compelling, persuasive human voice. Again and again here, clear language and powerful music bring the reader into a world which is full of reflection, doubt, the pain of memory, and the exuberance of daily living. What is remarkable is the way superb craftsmanship always succeeds in making these poems a delight to read, while at the same time deep feeling never fails to make them memorable."

Eavan Boland

“The title provides the book’s best description: classic in its forms, rough in its fierce (and very successful) ambition, and most certainly new.”

Library Journal

"The several dozen sonnets and sonnet-like contraptions in the book are scholarly, scattered, and have a touch of both kinds of madness. They are aware of each other in a way you rarely see in collections and quickly invite comparison to John Berryman’s Dream Songs: like Berryman, Fields succeeds in making his thumb-twiddling and psychic ambling worth your while, and, like the Dream Songs, Classic Rough News appears formally loose while being quite the opposite. . . .Fields’s black humor is that of an utterly undeceived and persevering man, and, improbably, the crusty, battered cynic behind all this puppetry emerges as lovable."

Poetry | D. H. Tracy

"Though the material is sad, the poems have the bracing, redeeming and even exhilarating effect that comes from precision....The art of the poem, including its iambic pentameter, is kept quiet in a way that emphasizes the banality of ruin. This is the voice of misery, in the verse measure of John Milton and William Wordsworth, and the colloquial sureness of excellent detective fiction....
It’s notable that these poems are clear without being judgmental....The poet’s art, by being so closely attentive, is generous to its desperate characters."

Robert Pinsky | Washington Post

Table of Contents

Separate Camp
In the Place of Stories
In the Wain
Along the Watchtower
The Last Infirmity
The Daily Mirror
The Art of Surprise
Eyewhite Nightlight
The Company
And Company Kept
Going Out
Imprisoned Lover Singing Freedom
The Interior Castle
On the Bus
Fair Nice Pieces, or Burton Makes His Move
At the Laundromat
Here Nor There
The Passive Voice
On the Verge
A Short History
In the Name of the Queen
Royal Burton
A Country Story
Voices of Silence, or The Camaraderie of Influence
The Narrow Road to the North
"Into the World of Light"
Daggers & Patchwork Quilts
The Rules of the Game
Torch Singer
Early Autumn
Right Now
Winding Up
No Moon at All
Arkansas Stone Medium
The Bookworm Dreams of Toughboy Poetry
Under the Lamplight
The Invariable Paths
Being of Sound Mind
Phantom Pain
Among the Mysteries
Cutting His Losses
The Break
Battle Review
Burton in Pieces
Ripple Effect
Wet Work
Addressee Unknown
The Teaching in His Twenty-seventh Year
The Regret of Heraclitus
Of the Spheres
Burton in Heaven
Burton at Yoga
Narcissus at Ninety
La Salamandre
In Another Country
From the Highest Tower
Opening Line
The Voice of the Oracle
The Hinge
More Tender, and Everywhere Open
Before Sleep

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