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Good Poems for Hard Times Hardcover – September 8, 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Having revived the radio variety program with A Prairie Home Companion Garrison Keillor turned to broadcasting poetry in the daily short feature The Writer's Almanac. In any given week, probably more people hear him read poems than attend poetry readings and slams. That's good because his taste is excellent. But then, his criteria are golden. For him, a poem is good if it's memorable, recitable, and accessible. The almost-unheard-of-for-poetry sales of Good Poems (2002) suggest that many endorse his taste and criteria, and the sequel to that success gives them no reason to change their minds. As before, the range of poets represented is broad contemporarily (the majority are alive or very recently deceased) and historically (sixteenth to twenty-first century), though not internationally, for, with one exception (Psalm 51), English is these poems' language of origin. As before, too, these are predominantly poems of domesticity and ordinary things, and when a poem touches the genuinely extraordinary, it is related to everyday life; for instance, Stephen Dobyns' "Thelonious Monk" relates a particular instance of a kind of experience virtually everyone has--the discovery of greatness. Even those tired of Lake Wobegon, or who think Keillor's a bigoted Democrat (especially after Homemade Democrat, 2004), should grant that he knows good poetry. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

Those ready to whet their appetites would do well to start with Good Poems for Hard Times. (The Cleveland Plain Dealer) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (September 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670034363
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670034369
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #570,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gregg Hazlett on September 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Really what more can be said? Every poem is a good poem- hmmm, perhaps that is why Keillor calls them... Good Poems? I am a blue collar poem reader. I don't want to understand the free form or debate why the writer used a certain word over another, I like poems that take me away to a familiar memory or experience and most of these poems do just that. It is a book best experienced by candle light with a special someone and/or a great bottle of wine.

Thank you Garrison Keillor for another fantastic book of good poems.
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Garrison Keillor calls his latest book of verse GOOD POEMS FOR HARD TIMES. He could just as easily have called it MORE GOOD POEMS or FURTHER GOOD POEMS since he has produced another anthology every bit as good or better than his previous GOOD POEMS. These 185 poems from 61 named poets-- there are a couple of anonymous poems and a psalm or two-- were selected from Keillor's "Writer's Almanac" radio show so they are the kind you listen to and grasp the meaning of while waiting for the light to change. These poems are meant to speak to ordinary people through what Mr. Keillor calls "the last presence of honest speech and the outspoken heart."

It is worth the price of this book for Mr. Keillor's introduction alone. He opines that America is in "hard times" now with "the levels of power firmly in the hands of a cadre of Christian pirates and bullies whose cynicism is stunning," with the perversion of religion, a tax system that favors the rich, when newspapers decline and the censor abounds. He fears for a future when America has "no binding traditions," when the public cannot name senators and gets their political knowledge through television and their "only public life at Wal-Mart." He says further about what is already taking place: "You lie in a hotel bed at night, remote in hand and surf a hundred channels of television. . . and you can drift for hours among the flotsam and you will never see anything that shows that you're in Knoxville or Seattle or Santa Fe or Chicago and nobody will ever speak to you as straightforwardly and clearly as poetry does." That's pretty scary stuff.

Mr. Keillor is totally democratic in his choice of writers.
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I am so grateful to Garrison Keillor for bringing so many wonderful poems to my awareness that I might not have otherwise known, whether through his "A Writer's Almanac" on the radio or through his poetry anthologies. He has read or collected so many poems that I have come to love from poets whose work I have sought out as a result of learning about them from him. Garrison Keillor is an American treasure (sometimes a Scandinavian treasure?) and I, one among many, treasure him. This new book is a gem. I gave it to my husband for Christmas and since then have been reading aloud from it. So far, I have laughed! and I have cried! It is a marvelous collection from a wise man and it's just what we need. The Introduction alone is worth acquiring the book, but then the poems...! Thank you, Mr. Keillor.
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Format: Hardcover
I stumbled into this book at the library - about 2 weeks after my wife passed away suddenly - I loved the introduction, and the poems really hit home hard, and really were a comfort - and it seemed that nothing anyone could say was very comforting, but the words through literature was comforting. So after reading this at the library I wanted to make sure I owned a copy of this book as this is a book I'll want to read over and over again. I can't say more about what an excellent collection this is, and of course, It think Garrison Keillor is probably one of the most incredible comic geniuses of our modern era -
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Format: Hardcover
If you like the country, folksy, down-to-earth, raised-by-the-bootstraps, slow talking, sometimes seemingly lethargic, witty, sometimes self-depricating, and corny humor of Lake Wobegon, you should like this book.

These are not the flowery poems written by Renaissance men. Instead, many are recently inked works by cowboys and others whose abilities and talents rival those of the great 16th or 17th centruy poets -- hence the title.

This book moves well, reads easily and provides an anthology which quickly delivers you to well written English language poems. What more can your bookshelf desire?
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Format: Hardcover
Even if you are not one to pick up a book of poetry, you can pick up this book and enjoy it. You might open it randomly or flip through a section. You may return to a poem a few times and see what's changed.

This wonderful selection of very approachable, very enjoyable poems will make you stop and say 'oh' a lot. That was my reaction to many of them. A sort of quiet, sit back in your chair kind of response as suddenly the words made something shift a bit and some universal emotion or truth is revealed.

Leave this book lying around and I bet everyone will pick it up and respond to whatever page they open to.

Thanks Mr. Keillor for another great selection of poems.
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Format: Hardcover
Many of the poems were memorable, and I put some of them into my commonplace book. However, I think a second anthology is never quite as stunning as the first one. At least, I found the poems less gripping than those in the first anthology. I liked the capsule biographies of the poets, but again the first ones were somehow fresher than those in the second volume.
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