Refusing Heaven [NOOK Book]

Overview

More than a decade after Jack Gilbert’s The Great Fires, this highly anticipated new collection shows the continued development of a poet who has remained fierce in his avoidance of the beaten path. In Refusing Heaven, Gilbert writes compellingly about the commingled passion, loneliness, and sometimes surprising happiness of a life spent in luminous understanding of his own blessings and shortcomings: “The days and nights wasted . . . Long hot afternoons / watching ants while the cicadas railed / in the Chinese ...
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Refusing Heaven

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Overview

More than a decade after Jack Gilbert’s The Great Fires, this highly anticipated new collection shows the continued development of a poet who has remained fierce in his avoidance of the beaten path. In Refusing Heaven, Gilbert writes compellingly about the commingled passion, loneliness, and sometimes surprising happiness of a life spent in luminous understanding of his own blessings and shortcomings: “The days and nights wasted . . . Long hot afternoons / watching ants while the cicadas railed / in the Chinese elm about the brevity of life.” Time slows down in these poems, as Gilbert creates an aura of curiosity and wonder at the fact of existence itself. Despite powerful intermittent griefs–over the women he has parted from or the one lost to cancer (an experience he captures with intimate precision)–Gilbert’s choice in this volume is to “refuse heaven.” He prefers this life, with its struggle and alienation and delight, to any paradise. His work is both a rebellious assertion of the call to clarity and a profound affirmation of the world in all its aspects. It braces the reader in its humanity and heart.

From the Hardcover edition.

Winner of the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry
Winner of the 2005 Los Angeles Book Prize for Poetry

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307543943
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/2/2009
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 889,180
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Jack Gilbert was born in Pittsburgh. He is the author of The Great Fires: Poems 1982—1992; Monolithos, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Views of Jeopardy, the 1962 winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize. He has also published a limited edition of elegiac poems under the title Kochan. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Gilbert lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents


A Brief for the Defense     3
Naked Except for the Jewelry     4
Put Her in the Fields for Kindness     5
What Song Should We Sing     6
Having the Having     7
Say You Love Me     8
Kunstkammer     9
Halloween     10
Elegy for Bob     11
Resume     12
More Than Sixty     13
By Small and Small: Midnight to Four A.M.     14
Once Upon a Time     15
A Close Call     16
The Rooster     17
Failing and Flying     18
Burning     19
The Other Perfection     20
A Ball of Something     21
Getting Away With It     22
Truth     23
Transgressions     24
The Abandoned Valley     25
Happening Apart from What's Happening Around It     26
Exceeding the Spirit     27
Meditation Eleven: Reading Blake Again     28
How Much of That is Left in Me?     29
'Tis Here! 'Tis Here! 'Tis Gone!     30
Ambition     32
Being Young Back Then     33
Not Getting Closer     34
Adults     35
Seen from Above     36
Getting Closer     37
The Mail     38
Less Being More     39
Homage to Wang Wei     40
The Butternut Tree at Fort Juniper     41
Doing Poetry     42
Homesteading     43
The Sweet Taste of the Night     44
Honor     45
Trying to Write Poetry     46
A Kind of Courage     47
Happily Planting the Beans Too Early     48
What to Want     49
Bring in the Gods     50
The Negligible     52
The Lost Hotels of Paris     53
Feathers or Lead     54
What Plenty     56
The Garden     57
Music is in the Piano Only When it is Played     58
Winning on the Black     59
Refusing Heaven     60
The Friendship Inside Us     61
A Thanksgiving Dance     62
Horses at Midnight Without a Moon     63
Immaculate     64
Moreover     65
A Kind of Decorum     66
A Walk Blossoming     67
Farming in Secret      68
December Ninth, 1960     69
Not the Happiness but the Consequence of Happiness     70
Infidelity     71
The Reinvention of Happiness     72
Looking at Pittsburgh from Paris     73
"My Eyes Adored You"     74
Beyond Pleasure     75
Duende     76
The Good Life     77
Flat Hedgehogs     78
Prospero Listening to the Night     79
The End of Paradise     80
The Lost World     81
Maybe Very Happy     82
The Manger of Incidentals     83
The Thirty Favorite Lives: Amager     84
Burma     85
What I've Got     86
Trouble     87
In the Beginning     88
Metier     89
Ylapa     90
A Taste for Grit and Whatever     91
Maybe She is Here     92
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Good Work

    This is an awesome collection to have in one's own library.

    Everyone should own this work, along with Ohio Blue Tips by Jeanne E. Clark, The Photos In The Closet by Daniel E. Lopez, and works by Alison Townsend.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2007

    A Plea for the MFA curriculum

    I can remember the first time I came across Jack Gilbert's poetry in a bookstore in Lancaster,PA in 1994. Even remember the shelf it was located on. His poems, most less than a page, seem as if they are distilled to what can be said in a dying breath. His succinct,unadorned poems about his late wife, Michiko, in his previous volume, 'The Great Fires,' are what love and loss is like in an adult relationship. Although the temptation exists to read 'Refusing Heaven' as a summing up of a remarkable life-- memories of Pittsburgh, Paris, and Greece commingle with recollections of friends and past loves-- there is a stubborn refusal to leave this earth. '... What fine provender in the want. What freshness in me amid the loneliness(How Much of That is Left in Me).' Or, 'I am not at peace, I tell her. I want to fail. I am hungry for what I am becoming. What will you do? she asks. I will continue north, carrying the past in my arms, flying into winter (Bring in the Gods)' The ancient Chinese poets are cherished for how they could distill a life into a line. This type of severe compression is abundant throughout Gilbert's poetry. 'He thinks about how important the sinning was, how much his equity was in simply being alive (Transgressions).' Like Louise Gluck, who can still make mythology relevant, Gilbert honors the memory of Icarus in his divorce from the poet Linda Gregg: 'Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew... I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, but just coming to the end of his triumph(Failing and Flying).' Gilbert demonstrates that memorable poetry need not be verbose and utilize algabraic literary allusions to succeed in capturing a reader's interest. Literature, like life, has certainly evolved since biblical times, however, like the Bible, the same direct writing found in Gilbert's work remain a source of spiritual renewal.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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