Results of the National Book Award in the year 2007.
The poems in Robert Hass’s new collection—his first to appear in a decade—are grounded in the beauty and energy of the physical world, and in the bafflement of the present moment in American culture. This work is breathtakingly immediate, stylistically varied, redemptive, and wise.
His familiar landscapes are here—San Francisco, the Northern California coast, the Sierra high country—in addition to some of his oft-explored themes: art; the natural world; the nature of desire; the violence of history; the power and limits of language; and, as in his other books, domestic life and the conversation between men and women. New themes emerge as well, perhaps: the essence of memory and of time.
The works here look at paintings, at Gerhard Richter as well as Vermeer, and pay tribute to his particular literary masters,…[more]
The poems in The House on Boulevard St. were written within earshot of David Kirby’s Old World masters, Shakespeare and Dante. From the former, Kirby takes the compositional method of organizing not only the whole book but also each separate section as a dream; from the latter, a three-part scheme that gives the book rough symmetry. Long-lined and often laugh-aloud funny, Kirby’s poems are ample steamer trunks into which the poet seems to be able to put just about anything—the heated restlessness of youth, the mixed blessings of self-imposed exile, the settled pleasures of home. As the poet Philip Levine says, “the world that Kirby takes into his imagination and the one that arises from it merge to become a creation like no other, something like the world we inhabit but funnier and more full of wonder and terror. He has evolved a poetic vision that seems able to include anything, and when he lets it sweep him across the face of Europe and America, the results are astonishing.” …[more]
Gregerson’s rich aesthetic allows her best poems to resonate metaphysically. After working in tercets for some twenty years, Linda Gregerson makes bold formal experiments in Magnetic North She investigates the elegant shape of a question, taking inspiration from subjects as diverse as the Nazi occupation of Poland and the Nobel Prize in physiology. In one poem, “Bicameral,” she makes breathtaking leaps. “Choose any angle you like…the world is split in two,” she writes. The image moves from a child"s cleft palate to a gunshot wound to a shorn sheep to a modern art exhibit of hanging skeins of fabric: “the body it becomes will ever bind it to the human and a trail of woe.” Amid the torn, tangled record of violence and repair she finds that “the world you have to live in is the world that you have made.”
Startling new pieces join poems from the celebrated poet’s previous collections.
This collection arranges poems from the author’s six highly praised books alongside a group of astonishing new pieces.
In his new collection, Stanley Plumly confronts and celebrates mortality—in the detailed natural world, in the immediacy of the loss of friends, and in personal encounters. Archetypal, sometimes even allegorical, the poems in Old Heart amount to a sustained meditation. The American Academy of Arts and Letters declared of Plumly that “he has in the last thirty years quietly, steadily, expanded the range of lyric poetry in English…[and] reinvigorated our poetry.” His ethical rigor and literary modesty combine in Old Heart—his finest book of poetry.