The city is considered nature's opposite, but humankind is as much a part of nature as any other earthly species, and cities are as vital and natural as coral reefs and termite mounds. Emily Hiestand, poetry editor of Orion magazine, crystallizes this recognition in her sagacious and lyrical introduction to this pathfinding anthology, and editor Bosselaar presents poems of supple wit, grace, and acuity by more than 130 poets that marvel at nature's myriad improvisations in the realm of concrete, brick, glass, steel, and automobiles. Metaphors unite the human made and the natural with great finesse in the poems of Diane Ackerman, Gary Snyder, Amy Clampitt, Edward Hirsch, and Gerald Stern, and in every urban scene, life abounds. Sterling Plumpp writes of pigeons; Stuart Dybek discovers a swatch of forgotten wildness behind a billboard; and Linda Hogan sees the heavens on the paved earth: "the potholes are full / of light and stars, the moon's many faces." Bosselaar's anthology is a resonant testament to life's irrepressibility. Donna Seaman
-- From Independent Publisher
Seedy motels, greasy diners, and bars that provide "forgettably pleasing" nights are among the quintessentially American hangouts celebrated here by 125 poets. In Jorie Graham's "In the Hotel," the speaker lies awake and alone in her rented room listening in on "[a] moaning now--a human moan--and then / another cry--but small" which leads her to ask, "How heavy can the singleness become? / Who will hear us? What shall we do?" Campbell McGrath breezily eulogizes downtown Manhattan, with its "hipsters and bikers and crazy Ukrainians," and "all the black-clad chicks lined up like vodka bottles on Avenue B," while Liam Rector copes with the aftermath of a friend's suicide: "We did right by your death and went out, / Right away, to a public place to drink, / To be with each other, to face it." From start to finish, this vivid and diverse collection is a well-deserved tribute to insomniacs, misfits, and the ordinary comforts we seek in the dead of night.
- From The Boston Review
irst haircuts, first kisses, firstborn children. Never Before: Poems About First Experiences explores the ways in which the unknown becomes known. These poems evoke a sense of wonder at the world around us, and amazement at our ability to navigate through it, with all of the necessary bumps along the way. The voices of both established and emerging poets include Kim Addonizio, Stephen Dunn, Beth Ann Fennelly, Jennifer Grotz, Kimiko Hahn, Mark Halliday, Edward Hirsch, Meg Kearney, A. Van Jordan, Philip Levine, Larry Levis, Thomas Lux, Michael Ryan, and Gerald Stern, among many others. This is a diverse grouping and a generous and lively sampling work is showcased on the pages of this anthology.
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The Hour Between Dog and Wolf
The quality of passionate wisdom in the poetry of Laure-Anne Bosselaar astonishes and grips the reader. This poet confronts us, finally, with recognition of our universal responsibility for being. The later parts of the book speak in quiet tones of loving marriage, of the American landscape, and gratitude for the sanctity of the ordinary. From her courageous journey, Laure-Anne Bosselaar brings us the gift of true poetic insight.
-- From Independent Publisher
A New Hunger
Beginning with a harrowing account of her childhood in a Belgian convent, where she was placed at the age of four, Laure-Anne Bosselaar shows us how early emotional and physical deprivation can be overcome by intelligence, humor, curiosity, and determination. Although many of her poems are overtly autobiographical, they are never merely personal.
Small Gods of Grief
In Small Gods of Grief, Laure-Anne Bosselaar explores her childhood in post-war Belgium and her later struggles with grief, love and identity in contemporary America. Ms. Bosselaar mixes imaginative lyrics, narratives and dramatic monologues in this empathetic account of what it means to be
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"Every last one of us is someone else's Outsider," Al Young says in the introductory notes for this collection. The poets Lucille Clifton, Mark Doty, Joy Harjo, Maxine Kumin, and Stanley Kunitz, among others, address the guises of alienation and loneliness and celebrate the stranger in society.
The Belgian Dutch poet de Coninck (1944-97) was a miniaturist. Few poems in this first English-language selection are longer than a sonnet--a form he loved, incidentally, because it has so often been used to express amative and erotic love. Unsurprisingly, de Coninck was a poet of love. The early poems here are even more concise and more concerned with the act of love than all but the sexiest formal sonnets, such as Edna St. Vincent Millay's, which de Coninck adored. De Coninck manages to be both graphically intimate and lovingly tender in such poems. Later he turned to pain and endurance, both those of a nation reeling from two brutal invasions in the 30 years before de Coninck was born and those of a man who has personally loved and lost most brutally--de Coninck's first wife died in 1971 in a car crash in which he and their child were also involved. Still later poems return to love, for everything else the poet has learned to adore.
- Ray Olson
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