Collected Poems (Paperback)
When Jack Gilbert titled a collection of poems Refusing Heaven he meant it. His work is an affirmation of this world and our myriad experiences in it. The gravitas his poems are infused with is infectious. In a poem called “Métier” he states flatly, “I don’t/write funny poems.” He deals with the grand old themes that are threaded through the human condition:
The overcoming of suffering, from “A Kind of Courage”: "Until all the world is overcome/by what goes up and up in us, singing and dancing/and throwing down flowers nevertheless."
The dealing with death (of his wife of eleven years), from “Married”: "I came back from the funeral and crawled/around the apartment, crying hard,/searching for my wife's hair./For two months got them from the drain,/from the vacuum cleaner, under the refrigerator,/and off the clothes in the closet."
Passion, love and eroticism, from “The Great Fires”: Passion is a fire of many woods,/each of which gives off its special odor/so we can know the many kinds/that are not love..."
His poems are short, emphatic and full of sentence fragments that ground the reader in the here and now. His career is a modern legend: he won the Yale Younger Series award for his first book (which was all but inaccessible until now) and then seemingly disappeared. He spent time living in Europe and then about twenty years later published his next collection of poems. He never really spent any time on the American Poetry “scene.” His Collected Poems is a long awaited treasure trove for fans and includes over twenty uncollected poems.— From Andy's Staff Favorites
Gathered in this volume readers will find more than fifty years of poems by the incomparable Jack Gilbert, from his Yale Younger Poets prize-winning volume to glorious late poems, including a section of previously uncollected work.
There is no one quite like Jack Gilbert in postwar American poetry. After garnering early acclaim with Views of Jeopardy (1962), he escaped to Europe and lived apart from the literary establishment, honing his uniquely fierce, declarative style, with its surprising abundance of feeling. He reappeared in our midst with Monolithos (1982) and then went underground again until The Great Fires (1994), which was eventually followed by Refusing Heaven (2005), a prizewinning volume of surpassing joy and sorrow, and the elegiac The Dance Most of All (2009). Whether his subject is his boyhood in working-class Pittsburgh, the women he has loved throughout his life, or the bittersweet losses we all face, Gilbert is by turns subtle and majestic: he steals up on the odd moment of grace; he rises to crescendos of emotion. At every turn, he illuminates the basic joys of everyday experience.
Now, for the first time, we have all of Jack Gilbert’s work in one essential volume: testament to a stunning career and to his place at the forefront of poetic achievement in our time.
About the Author
Jack Gilbert is the author of five volumes of poetry. His many awards include the Yale Younger Poets prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His second collection, Monolithos, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He served in various countries as a lecturer for the U.S. State Department and has taught at Rikkyo University (Tokyo), San Francisco State University, Smith College, and elsewhere.