poetic realms of James Merrill Knopf has begun republishing the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Merrill, widely considered one of the leading American poets of the 20th century. The first title on tap, Collected Poems, is a lavish, 885-page volume that spans Merrill's 50-year career, documenting the evolution of an artist. The book contains the whole of Merrill's published lyric poems, excluding (because it was too lengthy) , The Changing Light at Sandover, an epic work based on the poet's famous experiments with a Ouija board. Merrill, who probed both the worldly and spiritual realms the here and the hereafter seemed interested in everything: music and theater, history and myth, and, always, the act of writing itself. A poet of consistent elegance, Merrill, it seems, never missed a beat. In the years to come, Knopf will bring out Merrill's novels, plays and nonfiction, as well as a biography. For now, the man himself is immortalized in a new book by novelist Alison Lurie. Familiar Spirits: A Memoir of James Merrill and David Jackson chronicles Lurie's friendship with Merrill and his partner, David Jackson. Lurie, who knew Merrill for more than 40 years, covers a lot of territory in this little book, remembering Merrill's life with Jackson in New York, Athens and Key West, and ruminating on the supernatural forces that lay behind the composition of the mystical, mammoth Sandover. A mix of analysis and fresh insight, Familiar Spirits is sure to lend new dimension to an already multi-faceted figure.

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