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Collected Poems Hardcover – March 13, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1St Edition edition (March 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030726968X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307269683
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Jack Gilbert died on November 11, 2012 in Berkeley, California after a long battle with Alzheimer's. He was 87. His poetry span covered over fifty years and in the midst of poems of personal grief and mourning, there are still many others that celebrate the virtue of solitude and distance from society. From the many cycles of his life, his joys and his tragedies, he was able to celebrate the basic joys of everyday experience. As so appropriately been said, `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.'

Some examples follow:


Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.

It's the same when love comes to an end,

or the marriage fails and people say

they knew it was a mistake, that everybody

said it would never work. That she was 

old enough to know better. But anything

worth doing is worth doing badly.

Like being there by that summer ocean

on the other side of the island while

love was fading out of her, the stars 

burning so extravagantly those nights that

anyone could tell you they would never last.

Every morning she was asleep in my bed

like a visitation, the gentleness in her

like antelope standing in the dawn mist.

Each afternoon I watched her coming back

through the hot stony field after swimming,

the sea light behind her and the huge sky

on the other side of that. Listened to her

while we ate lunch. How can they say 

the marriage failed?
Read more ›
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By drahcir in Indianapolis on July 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jack Gilbert's Collected Poems are so very rich that individual poems almost have to be read with a certain amount of space between them. They shock with their juxtapositions of the lyrical and prosaic. But in the end the brilliance overcomes the petty faults that derail us for a few seconds. The poems bounce us back and forth between the metaphoric, surreal, philosophical, and the biograpical. The syntax and punctuation are strange, phrases sometimes being punctuated as sentences. The object at the end of one sentence often becomes the subject at the beginning of another, with or without a period separating them. There is an insinuating pleasure in these poems as we sometimes read them one way and then another. One feels as if something important is being said, that a very rich life has been explored and left at the reader's disposal, who is very happy for this gift.

If you enjoy the poetry of Wallace Stevens or Clarles Simic you might very well enjoy Jack Gilbert.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David Madden on February 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In life and in poetry, Jack has sought value in everything; he has aspired to make every moment matter. About a woman who so indifferently offers her naked body to men that "she is invisible under the glare of her nudity," Jack wonders, "Is there a danger she/might feel that nothing significant happened?"

Jack moved among the Beats in San Francisco, knew them all, but he was not of them. He ends "The Abnormal Is Not Courage" convinced that what matters, what is of value, fundamentally, "is the normal excellence, of long accomplishment."

Never into drugs or alcohol, Jack has always been a man of intense, unaffected curiosity about people, places, things, and ideas. "If we are always good does God lose track/of us?" But unable to engage in chitchat, Jack has never been drawn to hanging out with poets.

With the ideal face and voice of the poet, a man of no fixed abode, of few possessions, when he came to visit you, he came by bus, greeted you carrying only a battered, fat briefcase. Happily always on the move, he could say of himself in Pittsburgh, where he was born, in Italy, where he fell out of a tree into near death, in San Francisco, New York, Paris, London, Greece, Sweden, "I wake to freshness. And do reverence."

Jack used to eat his lunch in a cemetery beside a tree that grew out of a grave. "I liked to think of someone eating what was left of my heart and spirit as I lay in the dark earth translating into fruit." All his life Jack chose the solitary life moving around the world, purely living, loving, writing. In old age, living in a room in New England, he writes, "I say grace over everything."
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne on September 2, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The "Collected Poems" by Jack Gilbert begins with his growing up in Pittsburgh to becoming a world-wide traveler and resident of lovely places.

The poems of young love and the illusions they shatter are angry and clouded. As he moves through his adult life the tone softens somewhat, and the poems gather length and reveal themselves more completely. Often he refers to historical and mythical figures to compare or contrast his experiences with theirs, trying to understand the worldly limitations imposed on us all.

His first marriage doesn't work out; he's not sure why. His second ends sadly with the death of his wife, a grief he carries. His journeys take him to some magical places, rough places, ordinary places, but nothing changes the rules we all try to understand. Love after fifty is very welcome and pleasant, but the stakes are lower, not as electric, but then, what choice do we have?
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