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The living fire : new and selected poems, 1975-2010
Hirsch, Edward
Adult Nonfiction PS3558.I64 L58 2010

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Hirsch, a longtime poetry teacher and now the president of the Guggenheim Foundation, is an accessible and widely beloved poet and advocate for poetry. His work combines a playful, tender sense of humor, awareness of Jewish heritage, love for and identification with Central European and Russian poetry, and an intimate American voice that seeks to elucidate what mysteries it can. This, his first retrospective collection, selects from each of his seven previous collections, published between 1981 and 2008. The early poems attempt to characterize people in terms of and against the everyday world that surrounds them, and the art that depicts that world, as in "Still Life: An Argument": "the knife/ keeps falling and falling, but never/ falls. That knife could be us." Middle poems pay homage to and learn from classical culture and world religions: "...I believe the saint:/ Nothing stays the same/ in the shimmering heat." More recent poems confront aging and family ("My father in the night shuffling from room to room/ is no longer a father or a husband or a son,// but a boy standing on the edge of a forest"), while the newest wonder about the poet's own mortality, and track love lost and found. Hirsch has many wise things to say; this book is a trove of them. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

The poems in this new work span the years from 1981, when Hirsch published his first book, For the Sleepwalkers, to the present (represented by a section of new poems that open the book)-almost 30 years of work. This new volume takes us on a tour of Hirsch's growth and development as a poet. They are one poetic voice piecing together the fragments of a self, (re)considering a life; a psyche on its Jungian journey toward integration, almost rabbinical in its spiritual interrogations. Occasionally, the poems seem to rely on too easy, romanticized endings, but overall the poems, like "Abortion" (Night Parade), are unflinching. Steeped in the language and pictorial vibrancies of the visual arts, Hirsch allows himself to enter and be surrounded by whatever imagination has arranged for him on the mind's canvas. Verdict Though there are weaker moments, especially when he's working with form (the long new poem built of haikus falls into this category), there are also poems of brilliant strangeness and piercing truths- "Village Idiot" from the middle years and the recent "Last Saturday," when a "new exterminator arrives...so early, [and] without warning." The voice of the poet in these poems is hard on itself but also tenacious about the possibilities of hope. Highly recommended.-Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Univ. of California, Davis/Sacramento City Coll. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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