Books: Everyone's Notion of a Poet

THEY hate to see him leave a party —not that it happens very often. "Take one with you, Jim!" someone shouts, and the big man rises and knocks one back in one gulp. "I just did," he says, and leaves his admirers gaping. James Dickey is everyone's notion of a poet: part Proteus, part Puck. People marvel at how much liquor he can hold, but he wonders why he can't drink as much as Hart Crane. Others are awestruck that he writes poems, criticism and fiction. He frets that he cannot paint.

He will get to that, though. His early idol was...

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