on March 1, 2007
Roger Housden uses a unique format: he chose 11 superb poems, and followed each by his own commentary and fascinating anecdotes. In addition to offering works by famous poets, such as Billy Collins, John Keats, and Mary Oliver, he introduces readers to the marvelous poetry of relatively obscure modern poets. Dorianne Laux once thought of taking her own life but was kept alive by the kindness of strangers: "A woman holds the glass door open, waits patiently for my empty body to pass through.... a retarded child who lifts his almond eyes and smiles. Somehow they always find me, seem even to be waiting..." And then there is Naomi Shihab Nye stating, "Know you could tumble any second. Then decide what to do with your time."
What could be truer than that?
Each poem is a small but mighty message in this power-packed 185-page little volume that deserves a place on your bedside table, or to be read, like the great now-deceased James Wright's poem, in a hammock where "the cowbells follow one another into the distances of the afternoon."
on March 26, 2013
I'm not one to read poetry (I have to read it for an English class), but this book makes poetry enlightening, fun, evocative and heart touching. I have a few favorite poems now. It's also nice to have commentary to read, just in case you didn't understand something written by the poem's original author. This is a sweet book.
There's actually 11 poems (don't you just love bonus material):
My Life - Billy Collins
Ecstasy - Hayden Carruth
Weathering - Fleur Adcock
Sunset - Rainer Maria Rilke
For the Sake of Strangers - Dorianne Laux
Song of a Man Who Has Come Through - D. H. Lawrence
Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota
To Autumn - John Keats
The Art of Disappearing - Naomi Shihab Nye
The Mind of Absolute Trust (excerpt) - Seng-T
When Death Comes - Mary Olivier
on May 6, 2009
I have read every poetry book Roger Housden has written and I owe him a huge debt of gratitude. He has introduced me to poets I would never have met and now just love. Unfortunately, usually the only poetry books one finds on the shelves are the tried and true. He has some of those sprinkled in, but he also has some you will never know about unless you read his books.
His commentary is very personal and enlightening. If I have any negative criticism, it is that he sometimes belabors his personal life a bit too much. But be patient, he'll forge on and once caught in the poetry, leaves the personal behind.
I have written to him to ask him to please continue to write these books. I believe he has set a limit of six poetry books. Not nearly enough!! More!! More!!
on November 14, 2012
I am a newcomer to poetry and, frankly, a bit intimidated by it. Roger Housden is the perfect person to gently lead the novice into experiencing some of the most beautiful, soul-stirring poems I could imagine. Each poem is followed by an chapter by Housden on what that poem has meant to him and how it has deepened his experience of life. Very intelligent, yet totally down-to-earth, I felt myself connecting with Mr. Housden and, through him, to each poem in an unexpected and deeply spiritual way. I now own all ten of his "Ten Poems to .... " series, and I consider discovering them a major blessing in my life.