Andrew Frisardi's essays in Ancient Salt are about several modern and contemporary poets--British, American, and Italian. Frisardi offers close readings of these poets, and considers their work in light of the challenges of living and writing amid the extraordinary transformations of the modern era. Some of the poets are religious, some are agnostic or perhaps atheist, but all of them articulate a human-poetic response to modernity: its pluralism, mobility, scientific discoveries, innovations, and unprecedented global awareness; as well as its rootlessness, fragmentation, dehumanizing mechanization, materialism, environmental catastrophes, and even systematic genocide. The subjects of the essays are Scottish poet Edwin Muir (1887-1959); Italian modernist Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888-1970); Irish poet W. B. Yeats (1865-1939); Welsh poet Vernon Watkins (1906-1968); English poet and Blake scholar Kathleen Raine (1908-2003); English poet-editor Peter Russell (1921-2003); American poet and Alaskan homesteader John Haines (1924-2011); English poet Richard Berengarten (formerly Burns) (1943-); and American poet-critic David Mason (1954-).
Frisardi's accessible style and extensive knowledge of the thought and learning of these poets as well as of the craft of poetry makes these essays substantial nourishment for poetry lovers and students.