Customer Reviews: Poems That Make Grown Men Cry: 100 Men on the Words That Move Them
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on April 1, 2014
You don’t have to say it: I am fully aware that I am not a man. Also, I’m an embarrassingly easy crier and will shed a tear at the drop of a hat. (I’ve recently taken to speed-reading through sad scenes in books because otherwise I’d have to tag far too many reviews with “Made Me Cry.”) So what made me request this one from Edelweiss? Basically, I figured that this had to be a collection of damn good poems in order to move so many eminent men so deeply. Also, the range of contributors seemed pretty broad, and it included a lot of my favorites. I’m always interested in finding out if my tastes match the tastes of the writers/performers/etc. I admire.

The editors allowed each contributor to include a brief piece explaining why he chose his particular poem. I found it particularly interesting when two men chose the same poem for different reasons, which happened more than once. After the poem, there’s a brief bio on the selector. Although I recognized most of the names, there were a few I didn’t, and I found this feature helpful.

The poetry itself comes from various time periods and languages, though most were written in English in the last 100-150 years. Some are beautiful but not particularly emotional, some seemed chosen for strictly personal reasons (and therefore felt a bit distant for me), and some left me pacing the floors of my home while sobbing.

Some of the poems didn’t make me cry, but they opened my eyes to a new poet and a style that I admired (I’ve included links when I could find them): Abioseh Nicol’s “The Meaning of Africa,” chosen by James Earl Jones, with its sweeping descriptions; Elizabeth Bishop’s powerfully evocative “Crusoe in England,” chosen by Andrew Solomon; Philip Larkin’s terrifying “Aubade,” chosen by William Sieghart; and — one I’d read previously and forgotten about — Bukowski’s “Eulogy to a Hell of a Dame,” chosen by Mike Leigh.

Other poems’ messages moved me: Consantine P. Cavafy’s “Ithaka,” chosen by Walter Salles, and Derek Walcott’s “Love After Love,” chosen by Tom Hiddleston.

Poems that hit me the hardest — the ones that made me out-and-out cry — were the ones about family, whether having/losing a parent (Tony Harrison’s “Long Distance II,” chosen by Daniel Radcliffe) or being one (John N. Morris’s “For Julia, In the Deep Water,” chosen by Tobias Wolff; Victoria Redel’s “Bedecked,” chosen by Billy Collins; and Rabindranath Tagore’s “Those Who Are Near Me Do Not Know,” chosen by Chris Cooper).

All in all: There’s something for everyone in here. Buy a stack of copies and gift them!

Note: I received a free review copy of this book via Edelweiss.
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on April 12, 2014
I am a grown man. I do not like to cry. I received this book as a gift.

Product works as advertised.
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HALL OF FAMEon April 2, 2014
There is an implicit assumption in this project i.e. that what makes us cry is what most moves us. That is not necessarily the case, of course depending who we are, but is perhaps most often the case. In any case this anthology does provide an interesting collection of poetry, and with it the reasons why those who selected the poems found them most significant. There are also brief biographies of the selectors, all of whom are 'known' people in one area or the other.
What also struck me is only one of the poems, Dylan Thomas 'Do Not Go Gentle Into that good night' is among those I would have selected. Harold Jacobson chose Wordsworth's 'Surprised by Joy' and Harold Evans 'Wordsworth's 'The Happy Worrier' and each gave convincing reasons for doing so. But for me the great and moving Wordsworth poems are 'Tintern Abbey' ' 'Daffodils' 'The World is too much with us' 'Earth has not anything to show more fair'. I was surprised that Mathew Arnold's 'Dover Beach' and Hopkins 'Thou Art Indeed Just' are not here. Above all I was surprised that not a single person selected one of the most moving and consoling of all great religious poetry 'The Psalms'.
In any case there is much outstanding poetry here, and again most interestingly stories of why they are selected. Of course each such explanation says as much about the explainer as it does about the poem.
But this is a valuable project especially for those for whom reading Poetry is a great life passion.
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on January 24, 2015
A long overdue anthology for men who find tears-honest, but not mawkish-to be a powerful cathartic. Poetry is the art of saying in as few words as possible the otherwise unsayable. It seeks out our secret places and brings them into the light. Vulnerability s not always weakness but can become a source of strength, when properly harvested and honored. This collection is targeted at the man who has wrestled with those inner demons and emerged triumphant or at least with new hope. I recommend this collection to anyone who values their personal journey as also universal and of value to their fellow pilgrims. Isolation is the enemy, poetry the gateway to healing..
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on May 26, 2014
Heck, it would be worth your while just to re-read these 100 poems. Some of them may not make you cry, we do have different sensibilities, but they are all good, strong poems on loss. There's not a frill among them. But each was chosen by a "man of letters" who took the time to explain his choice, usually in two or three paragraphs. Those explanations are worth your time as well. Not every one will make you cry, but probably a few will. It's a good test of you manliness and a good test of your sensitivity. And in time of loss, you just might want to return to one or several of the poems, or of the explanations.
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The title of this book reads like a manly gauntlet thrown down: go ahead; I dare you not to cry. The expectation of this book is to strike the tragic chord to effect tears, but not all of its tears are produced by extreme loss. Some of the tears are drawn from awe-inspiring beauty, and even humor. It seems disjointed.

Aside from personal connections with the author, I’m not sure how this anthology was assembled. The connections being the people whom the author asked what poems make them teary-eyed. The people asked range from film stars to famous poets. Each person gives a brief history of either their connection to the poem, the poem’s history, or—and here is what drove me nuts—some random story that didn’t explain the poem’s connection.

For instance, one of the featured people of this book is Sir Patrick Stewart. Cool, right? Well, hold on. Stewart provides the author with a one-paragraph story of eating breakfast at his friends’ house in New York, then going out and crying at the sight of a New England’s Fall leaves (I’m assuming they were on the boarder of a New England state). Then the poem. The poem talked about God’s beauty and it was a great poem, but no mention of the poem was made in the story.

Another poem’s introduction is a person that said they laughed hysterically, and didn’t know why. It just did. And yet, there are quite a few poems with more lengthy and interesting introductions: personal stories and poems’ histories are shared. I just wish all the poems had a more personalized introduction.

The book’s editing threw me off. It could be my electronic galley version, so I would hope the print version of this book looks better. As for my copy, the interviewee’s name appeared then the poet’s name, then the personal story, then the poem itself, and finally the background information about the interviewee. Sometimes the author would interject with some brief history of the poem, where it needed clarification. I would have preferred the title of the poem up front. The current layout didn’t flow as it should have.

And I know it is nitpicky, but that cover is pretty bland.

Overall, the selection of poems and personal stories were satisfying. I’m not sure the challenge had been met of making grown men cry, let alone any adult, despite the orientation. There wasn’t an obvious consistency. Maybe if the book was edited a bit better, and maybe if the authors extended their interviewees statements more, it would have turned out a bit more spectacular.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing me with a review copy of this book.
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on April 7, 2014
The heading pretty much states my feelings.

Each poem is introduced by the person(s) who specified it to the compilers of this book.

No two ways about it, the poems reflect moving choices.

The introductions are varied, with some having a very ethereal relationship to the content of the poem and some being deeply moving in their own right.

The formatting and layout leaves a lot to be desired. Each chapter begins with the name of the poem in large letters, followed by the name of the poem's author in smaller letters. Then we get the reviewer/person who nominated the poem in a letter size between the first two.

The review ends and we get a one line break, then the title of the poem again, in the same size font as the rest of the text (though bolded slightly). Then the poem one line underneath that heading.

Once the poem ends, there's a couple of asterisks, then a blurb about the author of the review that preceded the poem. I realize that I'm reading this on a Kindle, but the layout causes the flow to be jumbled, the poem to just be another piece of the chapter and the reviewer's bios read like a shorthand publicity brief. I really don't think it would have been that difficult to separate the beginning of the poem to it's own, new page. Or to move the reviewer's bios to a brief blurb immediately before/after their introductions.. Or to make the poems stand out by having them in a different typeface so they can readily be seen while scanning through the book.
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I have loved all kinds of poetry most of my life and even though I have read numerous poems that moved me, I cannot recall any that forced tears from my eyes, but many beautiful heart felt poems came close. In fact, many in this fantastic collection are very moving and heart felt.

This is a unique collection (Poems that make grown men cry, edited by Anthony and Ben Holden) of some favorite poems which moved numerous famous men from a wide variety of fields like literature, and film, theater, architecture, human rights and science. The one hundred men briefly explain about the poem and what moved him about the particular poem.

There are so many great and beautiful poets in this collection that this short review cannot do justice to them; however, a few examples include the following: A sonnet by William Shakespeare, Hokku by Fukuda Chiyo-ni, Frost at midnight by William Wordsworth, Last Sonnet by John Keats, Requiem by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Remorseful Day and Last Poems by A. E. Housman, Lullaby by W. H. Auden and The Mouth by Gwendolyn Brooks.

I personally loved most of the poems in this collection and if you are a poem lover this is one book you might want in your personal library collection.

Rating: 5 Stars. Joseph J. Truncale (Author: The Samurai Soul: An old warrior’s poetic tribute)
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on October 1, 2014
I have it on my kindle....great.....but,,,,I know that I am going to buy the hard cover copy. There is something about picking up a book of poetry and leafing through the pages and getting your eye caught by a word,,,a line,,,a title... and,,,a poetry book is a grand place to keep special notes from people.... Anyway,,,,the book is terrific,,,,and the background is interesting...why the poem was picked,,,,and the info about the writers.
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on May 17, 2014
An anthology of poems compiled by asking men - celebrities, writers, actors, critics, and others - what poems have made them cry. Many of them choose male poets, but there are many written by women as well. There are also some obvious choices - Whitman, Auden, Larkin - as well as some beautiful lesser known poems. As with any anthology, it’s inconsistent in quality, but thematically it is often consistent - lots of poems about lost loved ones, the horrors of war, aging, death. Overall, a good collection.
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