The Gods of Winter: Poems

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Overview

Dana Gioia

"In his best poems, Gioia rises to the occasion of all great poetry: to immortalize our experience by submitting it to the tests of tradition and inspiration. Anyone who really wants to know the answer to the question, 'Can poetry matter?' will find that The Gods of Winter is full of answers."—Thomas D'Evelyn, The Christian Science Monitor

"In two exquisitely wrought books . . . he has already ...

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Overview

Dana Gioia

"In his best poems, Gioia rises to the occasion of all great poetry: to immortalize our experience by submitting it to the tests of tradition and inspiration. Anyone who really wants to know the answer to the question, 'Can poetry matter?' will find that The Gods of Winter is full of answers."—Thomas D'Evelyn, The Christian Science Monitor

"In two exquisitely wrought books . . . he has already established himself as a poet with a permanent place in the canon of American poetry."—Robert McPhillips, Verse

"The Gods of Winter is an important book, if only because it exemplifies Gioia's courageously aesthetic approach to poetry—to its language and rhythms. Fortunately for those of us who agree with him, it is also a good book. His poems are limpid, mellifluous, quotable and likely to be loved."—Anne Stevenson, Poetry Wales

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The gods of Gioia's ( Daily Horoscope ) second collection of poetry are like snow. Their glory is ephemeral. At first appearance, they dazzle--aloof, pure, silent. But like their human counterparts, they succumb to time and weather. Through catastrophe or a gradual melting away, change buries all things human and divine, and memory resurrects them only briefly. On these themes Gioia writes a few superb poems. ``Counting the Children'' concerns an accountant who, charged with settling an estate, discovers in the deceased's house a roomful of dismembered dolls. Later, watching his daughter sleep, he muses grimly: ``Each spirit, be it infant, bird or flower, / Comes to the world perfected and complete, / And only time proves its unraveling.'' It seems ironic that Gioia mars his collection with several self-promotional poems. ``My Confessional Sestina'' targets ``youngsters in poetry workshops'' who write sestinas as ``the official entry blank into the little magazines.'' Yet he merely asserts his own priority by mimicking the form and the practitioners he purports to disavow. pk (May)
Library Journal
The loss of a child permeates this second volume of poems from ``a leader of the neo-formalist school of poetry,'' as Gioia is dubbed by his publisher. It is not the formalism that is of chief interest here--Gioia's prosody, while competent, can be a bit stiff and tidy--but the way some of these poems break out of bland formula into beauty. One stunning poem is ``Planting a Sequoia,'' in which the narrator's act of planting a tree with his brothers ceremonializes a son's birth and death: ``We plant you in the corner of the grove, bathed in western light,/ a slender shoot against the sunset.'' Two long Frostean narratives are well done yet conventional; of least interest is ``My Confessional Sestina,'' which begins: ``Let me confess. I'm sick of these sestinas/ written by youngsters in poetry workshops/ for the declaration of their fellow students.'' Just 40, Gioia can sound jaded before his time; in some of these poems, however, a fresher voice seems to be emerging. Recommended.-- Ellen Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine Law Lib., New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555971489
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/1991
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 964,840
  • Product dimensions: 5.53 (w) x 8.73 (h) x 0.20 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2002

    a dark collection, but one you definitely should read

    Dana Gioia has made a name for himself as both a poet and a critic. And I¿ve heard both sides of the argument, but if you have read _The Gods of Winter_ than you cannot deny his excellence as a poet (and if you haven¿t read this collection, then you definitely should go and buy it now). The book is divided into five sections. Section I contains seven of his better poems. ¿All Souls¿¿, ¿The Gods of Winter¿, and ¿Planting a Sequoia¿ are here. The poems in this first section are about loss, even ¿Planting a Sequoia¿ which is also about life. Section II contains the longer poem ¿Counting the Children.¿ The poems in Section III are poems more about place rather than the loss of sections I & II. Section IV is the long narrative, ¿The Homecoming.¿ It¿s a dark poem, Frost-like in its nature, about a troubled boy and what happens when he goes home to his family. The final poems, in Section V, while still dark, leave us with a bit more hope than found in any of the other sections. Gioia¿s use of language and choice of words is exceptionally beautiful in this collection. And the heartbreak of losing a child if felt throughout. This collection leaves the reader a little sad, but with much to think about.

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