"A pretty dandy candy jar. The range of poets is wide, the tone is unpretentious, and the poems are all . . . good." (San Francisco Chronicle)
"These are poems to live in comfort with all one's life." (Booklist)
"[Keillor is] Will Rogers with grammar lessons, Aesop with no ax to grind, the common man's MoliFre." (The Houston Chronicle)
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.
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.
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.
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.