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Selected Poems [Paperback]

Galway Kinnell
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

25 Oct 2001
Galway Kinnell is one of America's most important poets. This new selection - drawing on eight collections from "What a Kingdom It Was" (1960) to "Imperfect Thirst" (1994) - updates his 1982 "Selected Poems", which won him the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. His poetry has always been marked by precise, furious intelligence, by rich aural music, by devotion to the things and creatures of the world, and by transformations of every understanding into singing, universal art. These constants appear in a dazzling range of poems: from odes of kinship with nature to realistic evocations of urban life, from religious quest to political statement, from brief imagistic lyrics to extended, complex meditations. This selection shows how the traditional Christian sensibility of his early work gives way to the sacramental, transfiguring dimension of the later poetry, which 'burrows fiercely into the self away from traditional sources of religious authority or even conventional notions of personality' (Richard Gray). As Kinnell has said: 'If you could keep going deeper and deeper, you'd finally not be a person...you'd be a blade of grass or ultimately perhaps a stone. And if a stone could speak, poetry would be its words.' Through the poem, Kinnell throws off the 'sticky infusion' of speech and - like the hunter in his celebrated poem "The Bear" - becomes one with the natural world, sharing in the primal experiences of birth and death.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Bloodaxe Books Ltd (25 Oct 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852245417
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852245412
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 481,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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There are few others writing today in whose work we feel so strongly the full human presence. His language tantalises us with a foretaste of meaning, an underlying emotional logic that recalls Whitman's "I am the man, I suffer'd, I was there." Like all good poetry, his finest poems attract and mesmerise us before we really understand them. --Morris Dickstein, New York Times Book Review

Kinnell is a poet of the rarest ability, the kind who comes once or twice in a generation, who can flesh out music, raise the spirits and break the heart. --Liz Rosenberg, Boston Globe

About the Author

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1927, Galway Kinnell made his living mostly from teaching from 1949 to 2005, in France, Iran and Australia as well as at colleges and universities across America. He was Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Creative Writing at New York University for many years, and served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2001 to 2007. In 1982 his SELECTED POEMS won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. An updated and expanded edition was published as SELECTED POEMS by Bloodaxe in Britain in 2001. He has also published several translations, including books by Goll, Lorca, Rilke and Villon, and Yves Bonnefoy's ON THE MOTION AND IMMOBILITY OF DOUVE in the Bloodaxe Contemporary French Poets series (1992). His latest collection, STRONG IS YOUR HOLD, published with an audio CD in 2007 by Bloodaxe, includes his long poem "When the Towers Fell", a requiem for those who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11 in direct view of his New York apartment. He now lives only in a remote part of northern Vermont, in the house he bought as a wreck in the 60s, where he has written much of his work.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reinventing the Sacred 25 Sep 2012
By Graham Mummery TOP 1000 REVIEWER
A few years ago at a large London poetry reading at the South Bank Centre, there was not a British edition of the Galway Kinnell's work. This is strange because he has long been one of America's leading poets, one of the most accessible, and also one of the most intellectually acute. This selection remedies that omission.

The poems here cover most of his major collections published in the USA. And there are many gems here. Personal favourites include one called "After Making Love We Hear Footsteps" about a child coming into the parent's bedroom. Kinnell is that rare bird in English language poetry, one who can write about sex without it running danger of descending into saucy postcard sense of humour, as is shown in another poem "Last Gods" which also has a pantheistic feel about it. Another is "St Francis and the Sow" a meditation on what is sacred.

Kinnell is not necessarily an advocate of organised religion. His poems aim more to get to the centre of things as is shown in perhaps his most famous poem "the Bear" in which the hunter transforms himself into prey. But if he can be described as spiritual in outlook, as well physical, he also has a great sense of society as is shown in a poem about people playing tennis. He is also acutely aware of modern living and suffering. Later on in a poem titled "Rapture" he describes someone suffering dementia as a result of Parkinson's disease being fed.

And then there are some very comical poems like the poem "Oatmeal." This is a conversation with an imaginary friend, who happens to be John Keats. Its delicious silliness also says something about the relationship between the sublime and the ridiculous.

All in all, this is a collection to treasure from a humane, and deeply intelligent writer with a strong eye for the details of life, who may go down as one of the greats of American literature.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Between there and here, great poems were written 8 April 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
One of Kinnell's greatest poems, from his 1985 volume The Past, is "The Road Between There and Here". In that, the poet travels a familiar road, remembering all that has happened "here", for instance: "Here the local fortune teller took my hand and said 'what is still/ possible is inspired work, faithfulness to a few, and a last love,/ which, being last, will be like looking up and seeing the/ parachute opening up in a shower of gold." That's near the end of the road, of course, after literature, first love, children,contemplation,frogs, speckled eggs, piglets,and Handel are recalled. Reading Kinnell's A New Selected Poems (his last selections were published in 1982)is like traveling the life road with him between there and here, stopping to watch him as he ages from a young poet with attention to form and intellectual pursuits, to a feeling poet -- a nature eulogist and family man --, to a seeker of self in his late middle age, and finally in his latest poems from Imperfect Thirst, into a quiet and nearly sentimental muser. There are no new poems here, but the poet's full,long and deeply lived life, presented and arranged here with an old man's sense of patterns and wisdom, is well worth a return to familiar poems in this new context. I think this volume should be read from start to finish without pause, unlike most poetry books -- the real beauty here is feeling Kinnell's life and insights blossom, flourish and settle. As for the individual poems: there is vigor and attention to language and ideas in his early work, but I find the poems from his middle volumes most moving. The Book of Nightmares may be Kinnell's master work, but I love even more the succinct, prayerful poems of Mortal Acts, Mortal Words. These poems combine his bond with the natural world with his own losses and desires surely,with precision and courage, not the sentiment of later poems. This sureness fuels the poems of When One Has Lived A Long Time Alone, as he sheds life previously lived and starts anew. Reading the whole selection may actually improve the effect of the poems from Imperfect Thirst, which in that volume seemed to me rambling ,disappointingly prosey, a little too sweet. Now, I see the grace of age, letting go of rigors and concepts and form and loving simplicity, and answering the call to rush onto the page before the poet arrives at the end of road,"all used up, that's it." A moving volume that left me somehow loving my own life more,--could the hardest parts have been the best after all? Kinnell convinced me, the road is worth every mile.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masculine Poet of the Natural World 6 Jun 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Galway Kinnell is a poet for all seasons. His voice is full bodied, in touch with the real world, and his vision is compelling. He deals with love and death and the glories of the natural world with crafty and beautiful language. No other American poet of his time has dealt so fully with the world of living creatures in a way that celebrates them without sentiment. His A NEW SELECTED POEMS allows us to sample the best of a lifetime of poetic output and is must reading for those who want to sample the best of contemporary American Poetry. Kinnell is one of our poetic giants and he deals with all that life, love and death, and the glorious and astounding natural world have to offer. You will feel better and less alone after sharing his thoughts and experiences. Daniela Gioseffi, American Book Award winning poet/editor/novelist.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a life in free verse 3 Jun 2007
By A. Marchant - Published on Amazon.com
A New Selected Poems. I've been savoring this book at the rate of a poem per month since my daughter gave it to me. (Don't ask how many bookmarks are propped up beside my bed.)

Gallway Kinnell's anthology is a tour de force of free verse. Kinnell speaks in an unstilted, vernacular voice that requires no academic dissection. The poems are rife with sensory description and rich with apt and original metaphor. Each poem stands alone as a satisfying emotional experience and as a unique insight into the the poet's life.

In the chronological progression of the anthology, the poems become more personal, more powerful, and more varied. It is as if the poet, having accepted the bridle of his muse, is driven year by year at an accelerating pace of insight and passion. Galway Kinnell proves that man can outrun his banshee.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great 28 Dec 2007
By Matthew C. Floyd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
if you like Galway this is a good collection. If you already have many of his books then you will have many repeats.
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and Necessary 13 Mar 2013
By Mark X. Cronin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A good collection that represents Kinnell well. Only Kinnell available on the Kindle and good to have within reach Glad I bought it.
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