Callings

Callings

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by Carl Dennis
     
 

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From the winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Ruth Lilly Prize

This new collection by acclaimed poet Carl Dennis is about vocation in the largest sense, the work that we believe gives our lives meaning, and the challenges that come in defining such work and in doing it well. The poems approach their subject from a variety of perspectives: a calling

Overview

From the winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Ruth Lilly Prize

This new collection by acclaimed poet Carl Dennis is about vocation in the largest sense, the work that we believe gives our lives meaning, and the challenges that come in defining such work and in doing it well. The poems approach their subject from a variety of perspectives: a calling may involve a compromise with limitations, or be an expression of individual purpose; if a calling in some poems provides an alternative to the disorder of the world, in others it offers a means to shape the world as we are shaped by it. As the poems speak to each other, they form a dialogue of attitudes that makes room for both frustration and achievement, a dialogue that includes us and takes us beyond ourselves.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Pulitzer-winner Dennis is our most precise and dogged poet of regret. The wistful and vaguely stricken speaker of this 11th collection casts a wide net, bemoaning not only past misdeeds or aborted possibilities, but what he might not do in the future, or what he might have done had things turned out differently in the past--“...if your daughter/ Is saving half her dollar-a-day allowance/ So as not to be penniless in old age,/ You may want to ask what part you’ve played/ In making the future appear less promising/ Than the past.” These poems draw their power from a kind of white, middle-class guilt over a life not lived to its fullest, though, the poems know, not lived that badly either. Dennis believes not in “love at first sight, but the will/ To be ready to endorse the feeling/ Should it arise.” While he does reach for--and seek to provide--a kind of empathy (“If you were troubled like us, the sleepless,/ You too would try to comfort yourself with numbers,/ Seeking our symptoms of your affliction/ Among the many who appear rested”), there is too little faith in human connection in these free verse lines to truly convince readers that anyone can actually help anyone else. Nonetheless, there is a strange magic in these poems. (Oct.)
Library Journal
The poems in Pulitzer Prize-winning Dennis's 11th collection (after Unknown Friends) seem tailor-made for Garrison Keillor's voice: serious, thoughtful, confiding, avuncular. An observational poet, Dennis is the amiable, late-career English prof at the local café, quaintly jotting notes on a legal pad among busy laptop and iPod users, speculating on the aspirations of working folks he encounters: a waitress, a roofer, people who want "Something more...than merely doing the old work/ With a better attitude" and who hope for "proof/ They haven't been living by bread alone." In plain language and halting sentences uncomplicated by poetic artifice, irony, or even much imagery, Dennis probes, albeit lightly, the possibilities for personal fulfillment in lives circumscribed by contingency, mortality, and skepticism. VERDICT Prone to delivering homespun wisdom ("Learn to take pleasure from the effort itself") and stating the obvious ("a flow of truthfulness/ In a time of lies is always welcome"), Dennis rarely achieves the level of surprising or unusual insight one might expect of a Pulitzer Prize winner. Accessible, sincere, and easygoing, these poems may attract a wide audience but will disappoint more demanding readers.—Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143118381
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/28/2010
Series:
Poets, Penguin Series
Pages:
96
Sales rank:
1,271,301
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Carl Dennis is the author of nine books of poetry, including Practical Gods, winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. A recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, in 2000 he was awarded the Ruth Lilly Prize from Poetry Magazine and the Modern Poetry Association for his contribution to American poetry. He teaches in the English Department at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and is a sometime member of the faculty of the MFA program in creative writing at Warren Wilson College.

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Callings 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago