Review: Russell Atkins: On the Life & Work of an American Master

By Patrick James Dunagan

atkinsBoth prolific and diverse, Russell Atkins’ literary output crosses over traditional divisions of genre, style, and form. He has drafted musical scores for many of his literary works and theorized his original theory of practice in his essay “A Psychovisual Perspective for ‘Musical’ Composition.” His spelling, syntax, and subject matter all tend to be unorthodox. The one problem with this selection of work is that it leaves you feeling there should be more included. Let’s have a full Collected Poems rather than this slim gathering. Of course, that is the point. The format of the Unsung Masters Series calls for the selection of the writer’s work to be followed by inclusion of recent critical essays by scholars. Responding here to Atkins are Aldon Lynn Nielsen, Tom Orange, Evie Shockley, Sean Singer, and Tyrone Williams. The essays not only provide context for approaching Atkins’ work, but also demonstrate the ongoing relevance located within it.  The hope, at least in part, is to generate a broader interest in Atkins among poets, scholars, and general readers. Read More