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Winner of the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry
Winner of the 2005 Los Angeles Book Prize for Poetry
Posted May 13, 2009
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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.
Posted January 17, 2007
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 25, 2008
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