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Category Archives: Poetry

Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: Poems 2007-2010

“Spooky those streets of minds
shuttered against the shatter

articulate those walls
pronouncing rage and need”

Adrienne Rich has over 30 books of poetry, almost all a compilation built on the years the poems were written. At 81 years, I would be remiss if I didn’t proclaim loudly that she is one of the most influential poets of our time. This collection is a reflection of a long life, love, trust, betrayal and as always social commentary.

Adrienne Rich is not an easy read but she is a necessary one. She pulls you into each sentence and demands you focus on the message she is sending. A gasp here; a shudder there; an overwhelming sense of awe as her words take your breath away. As Rich says, “I believe almost everything I know, have come to understand, is somewhere in this book.”  Indeed. 2011, 89 pages.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Nonfiction, Poetry

 

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One Hundred Poems From the Japanese by Kenneth Rexroth

“In the eternal
Light of the spring day
The flowers fall away
Like the unquiet heart.”

Kenneth Rexroth is a celebrated poet in his own right but in this collection he provides a translation and basic introduction to Japanese poetry and how it differs from Western poetry. Each poem is translated by Rexroth with the original Japanese language and then characters printed below. A short biography of each poet is provided in the back.

I admit that if I go to a bookstore without a certain book in mind, I tend to get in trouble. This book was one of three unexpected choices that called out as I browsed the poetry section. I’ve always enjoyed Rexroth’s poetry and I suppose the current events in Japan also pulled me to this simple tome. This is a good introduction to Japanese poetry and is a quick and reflective read. I am struck by how a few simple words can evoke such an emotional response from the reader. 1955, 140 pages.

Hisa kata no
Hikari nodokeki
Haru no hi ni
Shizu kokoro naku
Hana no chiruramu

~Ki No Tomonori

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Nonfiction, Poetry

 

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On the Blue Shore of Silence: Poems of the Sea by Pablo Neruda

“…in the salty air of the coast the stars quiver.”

There are many books of poetry written by Pablo Neruda but I do not think I have ever seen one so beautiful. The poems included were written in what Neruda called his “autumn” and were inspired by his surroundings in his house at Isla Negra, Chile. Each poem is presented as an experience with paintings by Mary Heebner of Isla Negra first; the poem in its original Spanish and then the English translation by Neruda’s friend and translator Alastair Reid.

I love the ocean and can get lost in a poem of Neruda’s for hours so my review is a bit biased. I felt as if I was holding a gorgeous treasure waiting to be discovered when I got this book. Like I was walking barefoot in the sand, waves lapping at my toes with the gulls crying out while I search for the perfect shell or piece of sea glass. There’s a moment when you let the salt and the wind and the waves transform you. This book had me right there in an instant despite my completely land-locked location. 2003, 63 pages.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2011 in Nonfiction, Poetry

 

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Walt Whitman: Words for America by Barbara Kerley

“I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise….”

The images I have of Walt Whitman come from a very cathartic reading of Leaves of Grass after a good friend died and I learned he was reading it. I have always felt pushed and challenged by his words and the life he lead. But in all my readings and musings, I never really paid attention to this part of Whitman’s story.

A short biography of Walt Whitman geared towards younger elementary school children; this novel focuses on the impact the Civil War had on Whitman who was too old to fight. Instead he dedicated himself to caring for and visiting soldiers in hospitals in Washington D.C. It was also at this time that he gained a strong respect for Abraham Lincoln. Beautifully illustrated with snippets of poetry throughout (full text included in the back), this is a good introduction to Whitman. It is in no way thorough and there is much more to learn about the man and poet who helped shape American poetry. 2004, 56 pages.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2011 in Childrens, Nonfiction, Poetry

 

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