In 2002, Frank Bidart published a sequence of poems, Music Like Dirt, the first chapbook ever to be a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. From the beginning, he had conceived this sequence as the opening movement in a larger structure--now, with Star Dust, finally complete.
Throughout his work, Bidart has been uniquely alert to the dramatic possibilities of violence; in this, and in his sense of theater, he resembles the great Jacobean dramatists. It is no accident that Webster's plays echo in "The Third Hour of the Night," the brilliant long poem that dominates the second half of Star Dust. Bidart locates in Benvenuto Cellini the speaker truest to his own vision. Who better to speak of the drive to create, not as reverie or pleasure or afterthought, but as task and burden, thwarted by the world? In its scale, sonorities, extraordinary leaps, and juxtapositions, "The Third Hour of the Night" makes an astonishing counterbalance to the intense, spare lyrics that precede it.
In this profound and unforgettable new book, the dream beyond desire (which now seems to represent human destiny) is rooted in the drive to create, a drive tormented at every stage by failure, as the temporal being fights for its survival by making an eternal life. Bidart is a poet of passionate originality, and Star Dust shows that the forms of this originality continue to deepen and change as he constantly renews his contract with the idea of truth.
Star Dust is a 2005 National Book Award Finalist for Poetry.