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What follows is a revised chapter of a book I wrote on the poetry of Roger White(1929-1993).
I'm sure White felt about his future biography somewhat the way Mark Twain felt about Shakespeare's biography: "an Eiffel tower of artificialities rising sky-high from a very flat and thin foundation of inconsequential facts, a fifty-seven foot high brontosaurus that looks convincing enough in the natural history museum but is made of six hundred barrels of plaster of Paris and maybe only 'nine old bones.'"
He saw his daily life as biographically uninteresting but his readers find his imaginative life intense, fascinating. I have, therefore, stood as far back from the facts of this poet’s life and instead concentrated on the enduring qualities of the man's writing. This was a much more challenging task for any critic with literary pretensions, with aspirations to be the best wordsmith he can be.
I was reminded of the words of that famous American poet Robert Frost who said: ‘It would be hard to gather biography from poems of mine except as they were all written by the same person, out of the same general region north of Boston, and out of the same books.’ Frost’s biographers, who began their collective labours well before he died, were not to be put off by such a statement, and the early collections of memoirs and reminiscences culminated in Lawrance Thompson’s three-volume biography published between 1966 and 1976. Frost had only been gone for three years when that first volume was published.