John Updike Poems

John Updike was an American novelist who also worked as an art critic and short-story writer. His novels include Rabbit, Run, and Rabbit Redux. He is also one of only four writers who won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once. He also won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award.

Ex-Basketball Player

by John Updike

‘Ex-Basketball Player’ by John Updike explores the faded glory of Flick Webb, a former basketball star, as he navigates a life of unfulfilled potential and routine.

This poem is a good representation of John Updike's poetry. While Updike's body of work spans various themes and subjects, this particular poem showcases many elements commonly found in his poetry. It exemplifies Updike's ability to capture the complexities of human existence, explore the nostalgia of lost opportunities, and convey the fleeting nature of fame. The poem's vivid imagery, introspective tone, and contemplative reflections align with Updike's overall style and thematic concerns.

Pearl Avenue runs past the high-school lot,

Bends with the trolley tracks, and stops, cut off

Before it has a chance to go two blocks,

At Colonel McComsky Plaza. Berth’s Garage

Marching Through A Novel

by John Updike

‘Marching Through a Novel’ by John Updike is an allegorical narrative about the dynamic between a writer and their characters and the effect of rigid characterization on a novel. The poem uses strong military imagery to urge readers to view characters in a novel as real human beings.

This is one of John Updike's more popular poems, although Updike's novels were more known than most of his poems. The poem has been published and reprinted a number of times, even posthumously. It has also been studied at high-level institutions. Clearly, despite Updike's leaning towards more prose, the poem is a visible mark on Updike's career as a poet.

They extend skeletal arms

for the handcuffs of contrivance,

slog through docilely

maneuvers of coincidence,

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