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121 of 128 people found the following review helpful
Yes, they are
on October 28, 2002
A couple of generations back, publishers used to put out fat poetry anthologies - half of them edited by Louis Untermeyer - for families to put on their bookshelves to elevate the cultural tone of their home. These edifying works were organized by "subject" (God, Seafaring, Romance, Hope, Nature), and leaned heavily toward poems from prior centuries, or poems which exhibited a comforting folksiness, or wore uplifting morals on their sleeves.
There's a far larger public today which is actually prepared to read poems for pleasure, and Garrison Keillor has put together a poetic omnibus, also arranged by subject (I particularly like the group of poems on "Yellow" followed by the ones on "Snow"), which is otherwise quite the opposite of the old workhorses. Yes, prior centuries are represented, but the center of gravity lies among good modern poets, most of them still living, most of whom you never had a chance to read in school. They have been selected for both memorability and straightforward style. There are often flashes of humor, and trendily obscure versifiers need not apply, but there's no lack of depth or sophistication. (Think Billy Collins, who is well represented here.) Those of us who already read a lot of poetry, and those of us who suffered with glazed eyes through opaque symbols in English class, will both find fresh pleasures, simple ones and subtle, in this treasury.
It's what a poetry anthology should be: a sampler, a taster's counter at the many-flavored ice cream shop of verse. You can find old friends and new ones, and learn who you want to explore in depth later on. And this anthology lays out a richer feast of new friends than any other I've encountered.
As a bonus, there's Keillor's bluntly opinionated preface, in which he trashes Marianne Moore in favor of Elizabeth Bishop, "Saint Sylvia" in favor of Anne Sexton, and T.S. Eliot on general principles. It was a hoot even though I disagreed with him on two out of three.