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Smart and Final Iris Criticism

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Tate has always had both fans and detractors, and critical responses to Reckoner (1986), the volume in which "Smart and Final Iris" appears, illustrate this. Chris Stroffolino, for example, notes that the volume marks Tate's turn "toward society and sociopolitical themes," and says that "Smart and Final Iris" is about the public's "helplessness in the face of the doublespeak of 'Pentagon code.'" Lee Upton similarly notes that many poems in the collection appeal to readers who have lost faith in conventional institutions of the state. Dick Allen's review is typical of the position taken by Tate's detractors. Known for his love of formalist poetry and his own formalist poems, Allen calls the poems in Reckoner, "basically a self-indulgent exercise for which there is no excuse." Allen faults Tate's poems for their lack of social significance and, mimicking Tate's penchant for using surrealist imagery, writes, "This is occasional surrealistic...

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Poetry for Students
Smart and Final Iris from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.