The Gift of Poetry

By Seaman, Donna | American Libraries, December 1994 | Go to article overview

The Gift of Poetry


Seaman, Donna, American Libraries


Poetry, literature's first manifestation, is, against all economic odds, flourishing in America. Poetry readings take place in bookstores, bars, libraries, theaters, and art galleries, while new books of poems reach the eager hands, eyes, and minds of reviewers every single day.

Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky believes that poetry should be as ubiquitous as TV Guide and has, with author Andrew Carroll, established the wildly successful American Poetry and Literacy Project that donates poetry books to hotels, hospitals, homeless shelters, and schools. Libraries, of course, have always done their part to bring poetry to the people. Here are a few of our favorite recent poetry books. Your patrons won't find them at the supermarket checkout yet, but, hopefully, they're at your library.

Bierds, Linda. The Ghost Trio. Holt, 1994, $20 (0-8050-3485-4); paper, $12.95 (0-8050-3486-2).

Bierds is a calm, precise, and omniscient poet with a vital, personalized sense of history. Every poem in this organic volume is genetically related to the others, with certain images functioning like chromosomes, split and recombined in different times and places. Various "characters," including Charles Darwin and Toulouse-Lautrec, inspire Bierds to ponder the value of both scientific observation and artistic interpretation.

Clampitt, Amy. A Silence Opens. Knopf, 1994, $20 (0-679-42997-2).

Clampitt is fascinated by metamorphoses and myths. Her rhythms are tight, beating like the wings of birds, the whirl of dry leaves, the rush of waves. She is dramatic and wry and always in motion, intrigued by states of ambivalence, transition, and "blurred margins." So she loves to write about spring and fall, mist and murk, and "that glimpsed inkling of things/beyond systems, windborne, oblivious." These are poems not to grapple with, but to surrender to until a "silence opens" and we hear anew.

Eight American Poets. Ed. by Joel Conarroe. Random, 1994, $25 (0-679-4277-1).

Six American Poets (1991), Conarroe's first anthology, was the only poetry book chosen as a Book-of-the-Month main selection in 55 years. …

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