The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing

The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing

by Kevin Young

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Overview

“Kevin Young has thoughtfully gathered many of these sorrowful perambulations and grievous plummets.” -Billy Collins

The Art of Losing
is the first anthology of its kind, delivering poetry with a purpose. Editor Kevin Young has introduced and selected 150 devastatingly beautiful poems that embrace the pain and heartbreak of mourning. Divided into five sections (Reckoning, Remembrance, Rituals, Recovery, and Redemption), with poems by some of our most beloved poets as well as the best of the current generation of poets, The Art of Losing is the ideal gift for a loved one in a time of need and for use by therapists, ministers, rabbis, and palliative care workers who tend to those who are experiencing loss.

Among the poets included: Elizabeth Alexander, W. H. Auden, Amy Clampitt, Billy Collins, Emily Dickinson, Louise Gluck, Ted Hughes, Galway Kinnell, Kenneth Koch, Philip Larkin, Li-Young Lee, Philip Levine, Marianne Moore, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, Robert Pinsky, Adrienne Rich, Theodore Roethke, Anne Sexton, Wallace Stevens, Dylan Thomas, Derek Walcott, and James Wright.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620404843
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication date: 05/05/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 16,767
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Kevin Young is the Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, newly named a National Historic Landmark, and Poetry Editor of the New Yorker. He is the author of thirteen books of poetry and prose, most recently Brown; Blue Laws: Selected&Uncollected Poems 1995-2015, longlisted for the National Book Award; and Book of Hours, a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize for Poetry from the Academy of American Poets. Named University Distinguished Professor at Emory University, Young was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Kevin Young is the author of six books of poetry, most recently For the Confederate Dead, winner of the Quill Award in Poetry and the Paterson Poetry Prize for Sustained Literary Achievement. He is also the author of Dear Darkness and Jelly Roll, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and won the Paterson Poetry Prize. He is the editor of four other volumes, including Everyman Pocket Poets Blues Poems and Jazz Poems, and the Library of America's John Berryman: Selected Poems. He is the Atticus Haygood Professor of English and Creative Writing and curator of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University.

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Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
fahyhallowell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found myself turning to poetry for solace when my 2 1/2 year old daughter died five years ago - this is the book I was looking for then. It earned a treasured place on my bookshelf as soon as I looked through the table of contents. Thank you Kevin Young, well done!
spacecommuter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I lost my father in 2008, so at first I was unhappy to be selected to receieve this book as part of the Early Reviewer's program. I'm still in mourning, and wasn't looking forward to reading so many poems about death and grief back to back. But the book had an unexpected impact on me, right from the first page - these are deeply moving, beautiful poems and this has instantly become one of my all-time favorite poetry anthologies. None of the poems are about Death itself - they focus intensely on the grief and impact on the survivors who mourn. The anthologist, distinguished poet Kevin Young, intended this to be available to people looking for readings for funerals, and as a gift to people who are grieving. So the poems are all digestable and meant to be understood on their first reading, making this an excellent choice for those purposes. Young groups the poems into five stages of grief - Reckoning (the shock of first learning of the death), Regret, Rememberance, Ritual (poems about funerals and other rites) and Recovery (poems about life returning to normal, or at least not ending for the mourner as well). I was astonished to identify with nearly every poem in the wrenching Reckoning chapter - it must be that the first shock of grief is so primal, we all feel it in similar ways. In later chapters, as poets put their loss into personal terms, add up the value of the life they have lost, and try to blend back in to the tides of their normal lives, the poems diverge and become more personal to the poet themselves. But they are all still so worthy and beautiful.Another note - these are almost all modern poems, and though there are some Emily Dickinson and Dylan Thomas poetry in here (because how could there not be?) almost every poet anthologized here is still alive, or has overlapped with my own lifetime. Adrienne Rich, Lucille Clifton, C. K. Williams, Philip Larkin, Ted Hughes, Rita Dove, Robert Pinsky, and many, many more. My favorite poem of all time is in here: e.e. cummings' "I Thank You God for Most This Amazing Day". And I picked up some new favorites from this book: W. H. Auden's "Musee des Beaux Arts" and Ted Hughes' "Do not pick up the telephone". It's so discombobulating to know Hughes wrote a poem about the dread and terror of hearing another loved one has died. For the quality of the poems contained herein, I would recommend this to any poetry lover. Many of these are standards, and deservedly so. As a gift to a person in mourning, this book will help them realize they are experiencing an ancient and universal emotion, one that can define the rest of their lives. They might appreciate knowing so many poets managed to put pieces of their pain into words.
stellarexplorer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book took me by surprise. Young has offered a perceptive and thoughtful introduction, and his consideration of selections is a welcome contribution. He has clearly read widely in the poetry of loss, and the result is a book that is beautiful and moving. This book is divided into sections reflecting aspects of responses to death: Reckoning, Regret, Remembrance, Ritual, Recovery and Redemption. While these poems fed my spirit now, I will return to it again at a time of grief. I recommend The Art of Losing without hesitation to anyone who seeks a most literate and articulate expression of feelings at such a moment, or any.
WaxPoetic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The idea of an anthology, any anthology, presented as something that is intended to be used actively is intriguing. Because this is a collection of works that deal with the act of grieving, as Kevin Young tells us in the introduction, the poems are intended for the living, and are meant to be used, explored, and spoken.The organization that Young has chosen to use is very sensitive and I did not find myself wondering why one poem was placed in Regret rather than Reckoning or any suchlike. The very personal and individual nature of grief was brought home to me while I read; more because I caught myself wondering about the people whose grief would take this or that form instead of the forms mine take and the poems that left me sobbing, than because of the varying styles or poetic idioms in which people write. It is a testament to Young's skill as an editor as well as the strength of the human experience of grief that the individual poets are less lauded than the emotional journey that they so skillfully illuminate for the rest of us.It is a fitting addition to the library of anyone who has experienced grief or life. Though it may at first appear a palliative, it does not rely on sentimentality or avoidance, choosing instead to face directly that most hollow of hollows and call it by name.
HeathMochaFrost on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program, and I'm so so grateful that I did. Thank you to Bloomsbury and LT for the opportunity to read and review this book.As I read the book, I marked the Table of Contents to indicate poems I particularly liked, or which echoed and articulated my own experiences of grief. Initially, I thought I might quote from a few of them in my review. But now I find I cannot choose, as I've marked about 80 poems. I also noted a handful of what I considered "classic" poems on grief, many of which have been widely anthologized already but surely belong here as well, including "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas, "Funeral Blues" by W. H. Auden, "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Robert Frost, "After great pain, a formal feeling comes --" by Emily Dickinson, and "Elegy for Jane" by Theodore Roethke.I was very impressed with the strength of the whole collection. Although I didn't love every poem (and with an anthology, it's likely no one does except the editor), my reactions are a reflection of my own tastes, not upon the quality of the poems. There really is "something for everyone," or at least for everyone familiar with grief, in this amazing collection. The editor, Kevin Young, is to be commended for bringing a great variety of voices and styles together to form a cohesive volume.Having lost both of my own parents, my father-in-law, and both of my grandfathers -- and three of these five losses within the past two years -- The Art of Losing isn't merely a book I won through LibraryThing; it truly feels like a gift, one I will cherish for many years, and share with others who might find comfort within its pages.
readaholic12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief & Healing, edited by Kevin Young seemed a likely selection since I lost my father in 2009. From the minute I opened the book and began to read, I realized how very lucky I am to have been selected to preview this insightful and touching collection of poetry - it is a revelation and a great gift. Kevin Young has compiled a loving, necessary and cathartic testament to those we have lost and those of us who live on. The hard copy is beautiful, with an understated cover, and a fine brown ribbon that allows the reader to bookmark a poem or favorite passage. The table of contents groups the works by stages of grief, listing the authors and poems for easy reference. The subject index collates the works by the type of loss: father, child, sibling, lover. It is thoughtful in every conceivable way. Kevin Young is a gifted editor, compiling contemporary and traditional poetry into chapters that parallel the grieving process. I assumed based on the passage of time that I was beyond the Reckoning phase and lingering somewhere in Regret, Rememberance and Ritual, and longing for Recovery and Redemption. I was surprised by the emotions I experienced reading the introduction and the first chapter. It appears I have just begun to reckon with death. The poems range from stunning, evocative, poignant, shocking, consoling to heartwrenching, and I could not stop reading as I found common ground, insight and truth. I tried to read the book without skipping around, but instead returned repeatedly to the contents, the index, seeking favorite authors or personal revelations. I was familiar with some of the traditional works like Dylan Thomas or Mary Oliver, and I was introduced to many new voices attempting to express the scope of loss. I was moved to tears by more than a few of the poems, and found many of them to linger in my memory. The books editor is also a contributor, and Kevin Young's poems are as deep and touching as his introduction.I found this collection to be unique, touching and transforming, and I wish I had this book to select a more fitting eulogy for my father last year, as well as to find comfort in the shared expressions of grief. I am sure I will return to this collection often as I move slowly through my grief process. I will give this book as a gift for others adrift in grief, in need of comfort, who struggle to regain balance amid loss.
wrmjr66 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"The Art of Losing" is an anthology of poems about grief and healing. Editor Kevin Young has included some familiar poems from the 19th and early 20th century, but for the most part he has chosen works from contemporary poets. The poets selected range from the well-known, such as former poet laureates Rita Dove and Robert Pinsky, to poets who were unfamiliar to me. As one would expect in such an anthology, the quality of the verse varies widely. While it is no insult to be a poet who doesn't quite measure up to Emily Dickinson, the presence of such poets in the anthology does often highlight the weakness of some of the poems.What some poems may lack in overall aesthetics they make up for in the authenticity of emotion. Many of these poems are raw, painful, and honest in the way that they deal with pain and loss. Many of the poems are staccato and abrupt, like this opening line from Coleman Barks' "Luke and the Duct Tape:" "Nothing can save us. All this sweetness dies and rots." Young has arranged the anthology in a series of stages in the process of grief--not the clinical stages of Kubler-Ross, but stages of his own: Reckoning, Regret, Remembrance, Ritual, Recovery, and redemption. There are thus poems that are appropriate to almost any feelings a person has when dealing with grief. Young has also included an index to identify poems about certain subjects. These two tools will make finding poems for specific situations much easier.Young also likes to pair poems that have an explicit tie for the reader to discover. The poem preceding "Luke and the Duct Tape" is Dylan Thomas' "A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London." Barks explicitly comments on the Thomas poem, claiming that he "does not understand" the emotion Thomas writes about. Less obviously, Charles Wright's "Self-Portrait" and Anne Stevenson's "The Moth" end respectively with the phrase "pass me on" and "pass it on." These juxtapositions give the anthology a sense of coherence that anthologies often lack.I recommend this collection to anyone who works with people in grief, or anyone who is going through grief themselves. I also look forward to tracking down the works of some of the poets included in this anthology, and so I also recommend it to readers interested in contemporary poetry.
macsbrains on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't read a lot of poetry, so finer points of craft or style may be lost on me, but though I may not be a student of poetry, I am a student of grief, as we all are. Broadly divided into sections (Reckoning, Regret, Remembrance, Ritual, Recovery, Redemption) this well-selected anthology of poems covers as many different aspects of grief and mourning as the number of poets included. No two poems relate the same experience, but yet they are all familiar because no emotion is as multifaceted as grief.There are poems about the death of loved ones old and young, well known and stranger, friends, enemies, and pets. In one poem, a man with his lawnmower accidentally kills a hedgehog who lived in his garden and felt strongly the responsibility of it: Next morning I got up and it did not. / The first day after a death, the new absence / Is always the same; we should be careful / Of each otherThere is regret for things said and unsaid, and things never heard. There is anger, fear and love. Some remember too much, or can't remember as well as they want to.Trying to remember you / is like carrying water / in my hands a long distance / across sand. Somewhere / people are waiting. / They have drunk nothing for days.As someone who doesn't communicate well in words and who has experienced much grief of late, this book has been especially meaningful to me. I can say, "yes, that's it exactly!" to every poem as if I had expressed it myself. It is painful and cathartic and illustrates the communion we all share.Highly recommended.
CatherineMarie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fabulous collection of poetry that centers around loss. This should be a staple for every church, library, and funeral home. I loved the layout, moving through the stages of loss. An eclectic, yet moving collection of poems by various authors, some of which had personal meaning for me.
shalulah on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was smitten with this collection as soon as I opened it. Sure, there were some obvious choices-Frost's "Nothing God Can Stay" will always make me think of The Outsiders-but there were also many new & unexpected pleasures-Lucille Clifton's "oh antic god", Philip Larkin's "Trees"-to even out the mix. This anthology had me at the opening line of Kevin Young's introduction: "I have begun to believe in, & even to preach, a poetry of necessity." I like to think of poetry as necessary, & I think it's time there was an anthology dedicated to losing in all its forms & stages. Like William Faulkner, "Between grief & nothing, I will take grief." I think this book will be one I turn to in times of turmoil to find, if not peace, then shelter in these words & images.
plenilune on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the better anthologies I've ever read, likely due to both the evocative nature of poetry on death & grieving, and the meticulous research and selection done by Kevin Young. Old classics sit side-by-side with modern stunners, formal sits alongside the more experimental, high diction next to the everyday vernacular, and never is there a jarring transition. While not all of the poems spoke to me (and when does this ever happen in an anthology?) there was nary a true dud in the bunch. There is so much here to sit with and think on and wrap around yourself. My only caveat is that so much reading of death can be overwhelming; I found myself having to take breaks, not just to let the better poems sink into me, but to handle the exquisitely heavy air of grief.
dougstephens on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kevin Young has done a fine job of arranging these poems about grief into five stages of mourning. The quality of the poems in this anthology varies widely, but this collection is heavily weighted toward twentieth & twenty-first century poetry with only a few poems from previous eras. That means, of course, that most of these poems have not yet stood the test of time and I suspect that some will not. That said, I was introduced to a few previously unfamiliar poets that I expect to return to.
ametralladoras on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great collection of poems about loss and healing. Comprised of poems from many different authors. The book is organized in the steps of grieving. Excellent read even when not faced by a loss, makes you reflect upon life too.
Blankenbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a remarkable collection of poetry that speaks to anyone struggling with grief and loss in their life. Poems of comfort, consolation, regret and remembrance, hope and healing, and everything in between. This is a volume to be treasured and appreciated slowly, over time, as you move through the many stages of loss, grief, denial, acceptance and , finally, healing.