Results of the National Book Award in the year 2000.
Kenneth Koch, who has already considerably “stretched our ideas of what it is possible to do in poetry” (David Lehman), here takes on the classic poetic device of apostrophe, or direct address. His use of it gives him yet another chance to say things never said before in prose or in verse and, as well, to bring new life to a form in which Donne talked to Death, Shelley to the West Wind, Whitman to the Earth, Pound to his Songs, O’Hara to the Sun at Fire Island.
Koch, in this new book, talks to things important in his life—to Breath, to World War Two, to Orgasms, to the French Language, to Jewishness, to Psychoanalysis, to Sleep, to his Heart, to Friendship, to High Spirits, to his Twenties, to the Unknown. He makes of all these “new addresses” an exhilarating autobiography of a most surprising and unforeseeable kind.
The poems in this volume have been newly selected by Galway Kinnell from his eight collections published between 1960 and 1994: What A Kingdom It Was; Flower Herding On Mount Monadnock; Body Rags; The Book Of Nightmares; Mortal Acts; Mortal Words; The Past; When One Has Lived A Long Time Alone; and Imperfect Thirst. Occasional revisions are addressed by Kinnell in a prefatory note. The life of this great American poet is glimpsed over the years - his childhood in New England, the early death of his brother, an exuberant youth in New York City, a wife and children, aloneness and new love. The natural world serves as backdrop to this life's journey, informing both the philosophical and the personal verse represented in A New Selected Poems.
“The Other Lover” is a collection of bittersweet American love poems. Writing with jazz-like verbal panache, Bruce Smith reaches for the paradoxical pulls between sweetness and bitterness. With carefully crafted rhyming stanzas and unpredictable free verse rhythms, these poems bristle and pop like riffs of a virtuoso hornplayer. The book is a personal, passionate, disturbing collection that places the reader both inside and outside the poet’s life. Deftly filtering personal experiences through improvisatory structures and a wide range of idioms, Smith communicates the want, the lack, the desire for what is missing, the sweetness of absence and pain. The pleasure of “The Other Lover” is in the imagination’s dance in the erotic spaces between the poet and the reader.