Good Poems

Good Poems

4.2 25
by Garrison Keillor
     
 

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Every day people tune in to The Writer's Almanac on public radio and hear Garrison Keillor read them a poem. And here, for the first time, is an anthology of poems from the show, chosen by the narrator for their wit, their frankness, their passion, their "utter clarity in the face of everything else a person has to deal with at 7 a.m."

The title Good Poems

Overview

Every day people tune in to The Writer's Almanac on public radio and hear Garrison Keillor read them a poem. And here, for the first time, is an anthology of poems from the show, chosen by the narrator for their wit, their frankness, their passion, their "utter clarity in the face of everything else a person has to deal with at 7 a.m."

The title Good Poems comes from common literary parlance. For writers, it's enough to refer to somebody having written a good poem. Somebody else can worry about greatness. Mary Oliver's "Wild Geese" is a good poem, and so is James Wright's "A Blessing." Regular people love those poems. People read them aloud at weddings, people send them by e-mail.

Good Poems includes poems about lovers, children, failure, everyday life, death, and transcendance. It features the work of classic poets, such as Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Robert Frost, as well as the work of contemporary greats such as Howard Nemerov, Charles Bukowski, Donald Hall, Billy Collins, Robert Bly, and Sharon Olds. It's a book of poems for anybody who loves poetry whether they know it or not.

Editorial Reviews

If you think that you have developed an immunity to poetry, Good Poems will cure you of that sad illusion. Prairie Home Companion and Writer's Almanac host Garrison Keillor has selected scores of accessible poems that almost demand to be read aloud. Contributors include Billy Collins, Robert Bly, Sharon Olds, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Donald Hall, Howard Nemerov, and Charles Bukowski. Keillor's genial touch is everywhere apparent in these selections.
Publishers Weekly
Poetry is a regular feature on Garrison Keillor's NPR radio show A Prairie Home Companion, but for the last five years, it has formed the core of The Writer's Almanac, a daily, five-minute, 7 a.m. show on which Keillor reads a poem. Good Poems selects 350 pieces of verse from among the thousands that have been read on the Almanac for "Stickiness, memorability.... You hear it and a day later some of it is still there in the brainpan." Divided by subject-beginning with "O Lord," moving through "Day's Work," "Sons and Daughters" and through to "The End" and "The Resurrection"-the book includes work by writers past (Burns, Dickinson, Bishop, Williams, Shakespeare) and present: Robert Hass, Lisel Mueller, Tom Disch, among many others. Keillor will do a four-city tour in support of the book, and of the paperback release of his Lake Wobegon Summer 1956.
Library Journal
The poems here grew out of Garrison Keillor's daily five-minute radio show, The Writer's Almanac. In his introduction, Keillor compares reading a poem on the radio to reading in a high school cafeteria, with radio itself as a backdrop to the listener's life. But, he says, there are some poems that make you stop and turn up the volume, and those are what he's collected here. It's a very eclectic selection, intertwining Shakespeare, Robert Burns, and Emily Dickinson with contemporary poets, many of whom might be unfamiliar even to avid poetry listeners. The poems are arranged by theme, with perfect segues from one to the next, no subject (including excrement) taboo. Contemporary poets who read their own works and those of others include Allen Ginsberg, Robert Bly, Donald Hall, and Sharon Olds. There's a small booklet included, listing title, writer, and reader; there's also an extremely useful list of acknowledgements, so listeners can seek out the books from which these poems were extracted. Make no mistake-Keillor's name, his reading of several poems, and his endorsement is a step up for poetry. With poet Dana Goia heading the National Endowment for the Arts and poet Edward Hirsch heading the Guggenheim Foundation, poetry is suddenly attracting attention, and this program should attract listeners anxious to understand more about the art form. It will not disappoint.-Rochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Keillor, host of the PBS radio show A Prairie Home Companion, has put together a collection of close to 300 poems he has read during yet another PBS broadcast, The Writer's Almanac. In an amusing introduction, he shares his thoughts on what makes a good poem. It's no big surprise that he purports to dislike literary works that, to him, smack of pretentiousness. A few selections openly poke fun at certain kinds of literature ("A Bookmark") or humorously defend humble things ("The Iceberg Theory"). Poems are arranged by 19 general themes, such as "Snow," "Failure," and "A Good Life." Authors range from well-known oldies like Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost to unknowns like C.K. Williams, who "played college basketball and lived for many years in Philadelphia." A delightful section at the end of the book offers biographical sketches of the featured authors. Keillor's choices lean heavily toward works that tell a good story or paint a tangible picture. Alongside poems with bucolic scenery are plenty of selections about everyday emotions and relationships. An outstanding feature of this collection is that the selections are all so accessible-even folks who say they don't like poetry can find something here to enjoy.-Sheila Shoup, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101174975
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/26/2003
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
504
Sales rank:
231,379
File size:
392 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Poem in Thanks
Thomas Lux

Lord Whoever, thank you for this air
I'm about to in- and exhale, this hutch
in the woods, the wood for fire,
the light-both lamp and the natural stuff
of leaf-back, fern, and wing.
For the piano, the shovel
for ashes, the moth-gnawed
blankets, the stone-cold water
stone-cold: thank you.
Thank you, Lord, coming for
to carry me here-where I'll gnash
it out, Lord, where I'll calm
and work, Lord, thank you
for the goddamn birds singing!

How Many Nights
Galway Kinnell

How many nights
have I lain in terror,
O Creator Spirit, Maker of night and day,

only to walk out
the next morning over the frozen world
hearing under the creaking of snow
faint, peaceful breaths...
snake,
bear, earthworm, ant...

and above me
a wild crow crying 'yaw yaw yaw'
from a branch nothing cried from ever in my life.

Welcome Morning
Anne Sexton

There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry "hello there, Anne"
each morning,
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy that isn't shared, I've heard,
dies young.

Psalm 23
from The Bay Psalm Book

The Lord to me a shepherd is,
want therefore shall not I:
He in the folds of tender grass,
doth cause me down to lie:
To waters calm me gently leads
restore my soul doth he:
He doth in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake lead me.
Yea, though in valley of death's shade
I walk, none ill I'll fear:
Because thou art with me, thy rod,
and staff my comfort are.
For me a table thou hast spread,
in presence of my foes:
Thou dost anoint my head with oil;
my cup it overflows.
Goodness and mercy surely shall
all my days follow me:
And in the Lord's house I shall dwell
so long as days shall be.

At Least
Raymond Carver

I want to get up early one more morning,
before sunrise. Before the birds, even.
I want to throw cold water on my face
and be at my work table
when the sky lightens and smoke
begins to rise from the chimneys
of the other houses.
I want to see the waves break
on this rocky beach, not just hear them
break as I did all night in my sleep.
I want to see again the ships
that pass through the Strait from every
seafaring country in the world-
old, dirty freighters just barely moving along,
and the swift new cargo vessels
painted every color under the sun
that cut the water as they pass.
I want to keep an eye out for them.
And for the little boat that plies
the water between the ships
and the pilot station near the lighthouse.
I want to see them take a man off the ship
and put another up on board.
I want to spend the day watching this happen
and reach my own conclusions.
I hate to seem greedy-I have so much
to be thankful for already.
But I want to get up early one more morning, at least.
And go to my place with some coffee and wait.
Just wait, to see what's going to happen.

Address to the Lord
John Berryman

1
Master of beauty, craftsman of the snowflake,
inimitable contriver,
endower of Earth so gorgeous & different from the boring Moon,
thank you for such as it is my gift.

I have made up a morning prayer to you
containing with precision everything that most matters.
'According to Thy will' the thing begins.
It took me off & on two days. It does not aim at eloquence.

You have come to my rescue again & again
in my impassable, sometimes despairing years.
You have allowed my brilliant friends to destroy themselves
and I am still here, severely damaged, but functioning.

Unknowable, as I am unknown to my guinea pigs:
How can I 'love' you?
I only as far as gratitude & awe
confidently & absolutely go.

I have no idea whether we live again.
It doesn't seem likely
from either the scientific or the philosophical point of view
but certainly all things are possible to you,

and I believe as fixedly in the Resurrection-appearances to Peter and
to Paul

as I believe I sit in this blue chair.
Only that may have been a special case
to establish their initiatory faith.

Whatever your end may be, accept my amazement.
May I stand until death forever at attention
for any your least instruction or enlightenment.
I even feel sure you will assist me again, Master of insight & beauty.

Philip Appleman

O Karma, Dharma, pudding and pie,
gimme a break before I die:
grant me wisdom, will, & wit,
purity, probity, pluck, & grit.
Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind,
gimme great abs & a steel-trap mind,
and forgive, Ye Gods, some humble advice-
these little blessings would suffice
to beget an earthly paradise:
make the bad people good-
and the good people nice;
and before our world goes over the brink,
teach the believers how to think.

-from Good Poems by Garrison Keillor, Copyright © October 2002, Viking Press, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission

Meet the Author

Garrison Keillor, author of nearly a dozen books, is founder and host of the acclaimed radio show A Prairie Home Companion and the daily program The Writer's Almanac. He is also a regular contributor to Time magazine.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
St. Paul, Minnesota
Date of Birth:
August 7, 1942
Place of Birth:
Anoka, Minnesota
Education:
B.A., University of Minnesota, 1966

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Good Poems 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw this at work all the time and then one day I bought it and it is probably the best overall book to have in ones collection. I try to read a poem everyday. These really are good poems.
G-Spritely More than 1 year ago
I try to listen to The Writer's Almanac on NPR every day. Finding this book of poems is nice for days when I miss the program or just need an extra poem. Like the show, I read one poem a day. Savoring the book as long as I can. It is like a little devotional. A moment to reflect on someone's thoughts each day.
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Mark_T More than 1 year ago
For those of you who enjoy Mr. Keillor reading poetry on public radio, this is a great companion. I bought this book to read to a family member rehabbing from a stroke and it was a joy to see his reaction as I would finish a poem. A great selection of poems from a varied and impressive list of authors.
CNT78 More than 1 year ago
This is a great collection of poems. What I like best about it, outside of some of the great poetry, is that they were collected from such various writers ranging from Bukowski to Shakespeare. So, it is great for people that are well educated in poetry and for those, like myself, that are just starting to read poetry. With the variety of writers, there is such a variety of styles and subjects. If you don't happen to like one poem or writer, turn the page, there is another that will be quite different.
Willa-Wannabee More than 1 year ago
...I love to get gifts of poetry. Keillor' collection is well-chosen. I also love his Writer's Almanac on NPR. There is something in this book for everyone. It will be in my personal library as long as I have one.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Poems presented in Keillor's collection illustrate that poetry should not be a dusty book inherited from your grandparents. Unlike the poetry shoved down our collective throats in high school, these poems have relevance and are able to breathe in today's world. If you are aching to discover voices that can simply connect with your life, this book is a wonderful introduction to the value of poetry. This collection may salvage some readers of poetry that would have otherwise been lost in the archives of other eras.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This collection by Garrison Keillor surpassed my expectations. The range of poets represented is quite broad and more diverse than the average anthology. I have listened to Writer's Almanac for many years and often thought it would be great to be able to access the poetry in print form. This collection does just that. In my opinion, these poems are always good and often excellent.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love poetry. Some friends and family members can't understand why that is. I also enjoy composing poetry. Those same friends and family definitely cannot understand that endeavour. But for those of you who either write or love to contemplate good poetry, this is the volume you must have. This collection almost speaks aloud...about God's creation, about all of the human response to that divine creation and even now and then about how the experience of life, living and separation from that life and living must necessarilly be realized by all thinking people. From the introduction (which is almost poetic itself) to the very last entry, this is a look at life as seen through the eyes of all manner of people. Within these pages you'll meet old friends from high school or college. Beyond those memories you'll discover the illuminating recollections of many who lived long lives and are literally telling the reader without any shame or pretense. Some of these writers died all too young...in war or accidents or maybe heartbreaking suicide. They are here within these pages. Read, learn and enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I borrowed this bood from my english teacher last spring and It has become a personal favorite. I love listening to the writer's almanac and the poetry garrison keilor reads. This book is so cool. I love many of the poems in it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A passionate collection of poems with warmth, wit, and charm. Excellent and elegant. A must for any lover of great literature.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The intro alone is worth at least a dollar, and the lack of puffery content was a relief --but someone should fix how the poems run together: it gave this reader some grief.