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Boss Cupid (Faber Poetry) Paperback – 6 Mar 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First printing edition (6 Mar. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571202985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571202980
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 177,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Imagine an Auden less reticent . . . Almost all of Gunn's virtues are on display here: his playful metrical dexterity, his unflinching celebration of both beauty and its transience."--Paul Gray, "Time" "Passion in all its obsessive gnarly complexity [serves as] the dominant motif in "Boss Cupid" . . . But in the end, Gunn's great lyric versatility, his edgy wit, and his mastery as a portraitist [underscore] 'the intellect as the powerhouse of love'--and of Gunn's poetics. He is at once the most visceral and cerebral of poets, delineating desire and its fallout with an objective precision."--Carol Moldaw, "The Antioch Review" "[He has] a formal expertise as polished and apparently effortless as any in contemporary poetry . . . Gunn can choose his form and can fashion, within its enabling limits, breathtaking sweeps through a wide range of fraught feeling."--Michael Thurston, "The Yale Review"

About the Author

Thom Gunn was born in Gravesend, Kent in 1929. After National Service and a short time living in Paris, he enrolled at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read English. He published his first book of poems, Fighting Terms, while he was still an undergraduate. In 1954 he moved to San Francisco and held a one-year Fellowship at Stanford University. He published over thirty books of poetry, including The Man with Night Sweats, which won the Forward Prize for Poetry in 1992, and Boss Cupid (2000). Thom Gunn died in 2004.

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Simon Tavener VINE VOICE on 15 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was first introduced to Gunn's poetry at school - and it has stayed with me.

This collection was my suggestion for the book group that I am with - and it was universally adored by the members.

We loved the bold, explicit writing, the depth of emotion, the range of subjects. The writing takes risks both in terms of form and of content.

Gunn comes over very strongly as a man who loved life and language and would have made a wonderful dinner guest.

This is a book of rich delight - worth exploring by any lover of words.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Jun. 2000
Format: Paperback
These poems are at once tender and tough - elegies for dead friends, dissections of the minutiae of modern love, meditations on what Gunn calls the 'devious master of our bodies'. A fine collection, confirming him as one of the best poets of the last half-century.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
An aging poet becomes stronger and finer! 12 April 2000
By "annclpoet" - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I think this new book shows Thom Gunn at his greatest as a poet. Many people who became fans of Gunn's work (very understandably)because of his last collection of poems, The Man with Night Sweats, probably won't be quite sure what to do with this material. But it's very characteristic of him, really! Both in style and in subject matter. Experimental yet classical, freewheeling but sane--the book's entire premise is the triumph of love in all matter of circumstances. And those readers who positively reviewed Gunn's Collected Poems, will recognize that the master has taken all of his knowledge of poetic forms (quite considerable) and his life experience (ditto) ahead, in a way that makes his true fans want to follow his every move; it's a virtuosic performance. "To Cupid" ("You make desire seems easy./ So it is:/ Your service perfect freedom to enjoy/ Fresh limitations.") isn't just one of the best poems Gunn has ever written, it's one of the best poems ANYBODY has ever written. It incorporates the motif of The Charterhouse of Parma, by Stendhal, who is certainly one of Gunn's most obvious literary fathers. As is Baudelaire: whose richness of romantic diction and sentiment is echoed in the poem, and others. Like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gunn may be be reprimanded in some quarters for not becoming a clever and ironic realist. But that's not what we want from either one of them; they're more likable, and perhaps wiser, than that. With "Duncan"--a poem dedicated to his late friend, the excellent American poet Robert Duncan, Gunn proves once again both his own need for truthfulness, and his appreciation of the habits and affections of others. (H.D., a poet Gunn formerly trashed--I think, unfairly--in an essay on women poets makes a startling guest appearance in the poem.) "A Home" is one of the most heartbreaking poems Gunn has ever written; it's marvellous. ("Raised, he said, not at home but in a Home...Between the boys/ Contact, not loose, not free, consisting mainly/ In the wrestling down of slave by slave. Call this/ The economy of bruises: threats of worse/ Pin you in place, for more convenient handling./ And nothing occurs casually but dirt.") The "Troubadour" cycle, which is subtitled "songs for Jeffrey Dahmer," is bound to turn many heads, or even disgust listeners. But I think the poems are well done (especially the first and second to last) and Gunn is trying to be honest here too: to admit what happens when one's desire becomes too strong, and you cannot let go of the beloved--in tragic and comic proportions. Also highly noteworthy are the connected poems "In The Post Office" and "Postscript: The Panel" which are, I believe, about the same Charlie Hinkle who is honored, as a victim of AIDS and as a poet, in Gunn's famous last volume. I like these two poems even better than the really exceptional former work. I feel the subject is brought more to life; we can almost see and touch him as the remarkable person he must have been. And that was his dying request, if I understand it right. I won't ever forget the lines: "I hadn't felt it roused, to tell the truth,/ In several years, that old man's greed for youth,/ Like Pelias's that boiled him to a soup,/ Not since I'd had the sense to cover up/ My own particular seething can of worms,/ And settle for a friendship on your terms." Or, "If only I could do whatever he did,/ With him or as a part of him, if I/ Could creep into his armpit like a fly,/ Or like a crab cling to his golden crotch,/ Instead of having to stand back and watch." And especially: "I thought that we had shared you more or less,/ As if we shared what no one might possess,/ Since in a net we sought to hold the wind." I haven't yet mentioned Gunn's religious poetry--which was a surprise to me! A pleasant one. Since he brings all of his intelligence and passionate feeling to bear on that subject as well. And it turns out to be not very far away from the rest of the book, what he's telling us, in the "Dancing David" poems, most of all. I also love "Arethusa Raped" (after Shelley), "Famous Friends" and "The little cousin dashed in" and "Save the word"--all featured in the wonderful middle section of the collection, entitled GOSSIP. "In Trust" and "A Wood near Athens" are absolutely superb. Will Boss Cupid receive as much praise and notoriety as Ted Hughes' last collection Birthday Letters and Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf? Well, it should. Gunn has done truly exceptional and lasting work, and he deserves the credit for it. I think he's the greatest living poet in the world and he's never been better than this. That's something to feel grateful for, at least.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Not a Poet! 13 Jun. 2000
By Joseph J. Hanssen - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I'm not a poet, I just enjoy and love reading poetry. Thiswas my first time reading Thom Gunn's poetry, and I was reallyimpressed by his new book of poetry, "Boss Cupid." This is also the first book of poetry I have read right through to the end in one setting, and then re-read most of them again. That's how much I enjoyed Mr. Gunn's poems.
The book is divided into 3 sections of different subject matter. I enjoyed the second section, "Gossip" the most. There are a lot of poems about nights in bars, poems about bartenders, lovers, and other gay friends, and experiences. The poem, "Letters from Manhattan" is an interesting poem about his friend and that friends sexual affairs with young men in outdoor settings in Manhattan. In "American Boy" he talks about hating older men who bothered him when he was young, but now that his is old himself, he's attracted to younger men, and their love sustains him and gives him enlightenment in his old age. And then there are many other poems covering a wide range of subjects from King David to Jeffrey Dahmer.
If you enjoy poetry that's intelligent, easy to read and understand, and full of gay experiences you can relate to, and other life experiences, you will truly enjoy this book. Now that I am a fan of Thom Gunn, I can't wait to read his "Collected Poems" (1994) edition. This book is highly recommended. END
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Cupid of Desire 30 Mar. 2000
By p.c. scearce - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In Boss Cupid Thom Gunn takes on the forms of desire. He encompases desire from every angle possible. From how an older poet reaching out towards a younger poet wants so much create a mythic scene, as in the opening poem "Duncan," or the desire found in seeing someone who looks like an old flame. Gunn finds desire in every turn of our lives...even what many consider the undesirable. But as the poet reveals in "Front Bar of the Lone Star"..."eventually everyone can hope for a turn at being wanted," he can cut a harsher image of desire. Like in the poem The Gas-poker" in which a mother so strongly desires death, she meticulously carries out her suicide while her child play just beyond the door. Boss Cupid finds Gunn navigating a world of desire with the finesse only a poet of his talent and experience can muster.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
...And taste your boyish glow. 6 July 2000
By M. Mitchel - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I consider myself completely unqualified to "review" poetry, but I must say I find Gunn's work wholly satisfying and moving. I read poetry rarely -- dabbling self-indulgently in a bit of Anne Sexton when I'm feeling blue and morbid -- but I purchased "The Man With the Nightsweats" on it's paperback release and have kept it near to hand since. When "Boss Cupid" was published, a friend presented me with the book and I devoured it. It's been nearly two months now, and not a day has gone by that I haven't revisited the book, either by physically reading or musing on its charms. Long live Thom Gunn.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Adventurous 18 Feb. 2001
By "blissengine" - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Thom Gunn's poetry is marvelously crafted and filled with intriguing imagery. His series of poems about Jeffrey Dahmer is rather thought-provoking. For me, his poetry doesn't have an emotional impact, but rather a mental one. I prefer fiery poems, that rattle my brain and shake my worldview. Gunn achieves that in some poems, but not all in this collection. I can see why he's highly acclaimed, though. It's just not my taste.
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