From Publishers Weekly
Young (Dear Darkness
) is not only a prolific and acclaimed poet, but also the editor of several anthologies of poems, by African-American poets, inspired by the blues and jazz, and from the body of work by John Berryman. This latest anthology is his most topical, and, perhaps, his most useful, gathering poems about suffering and overcoming loss. Organized around subjects such as Regret, Remembrance, and Ritual, this book includes poets both canonical and contemporary, with perhaps a refreshingly larger helping of the latter: poets like Marianne More, Philip Larkin, and Elizabeth Bishop join newer names like D.A. Powell, Matthew Dickman, and Meghan O'Rourke; there are also plenty of reigning masters, like Louise Glück. Death is nature's way/ of telling you to be quiet, writes Franz Wright, somewhat harshly. With calmer acceptance, Theodore Roethke reminds us of the need to wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. While these poems won't offer easy answers to grief, they will keep the kind of company that only poetry can, because only poetry can convincingly say, as Ruth Stone does in the last poem of this book, All things come to an end./ No, they go on forever. (Mar.)
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Poet Young, author of six vividly imagined collections, puts on his editor’s hat, one he wears well in previous anthologies dedicated to blues and jazz poems as well as here in this unique and invaluable gathering of contemporary poems of grief and healing. This effort stems from his memorializing his late father in Dear Darkness (2008), a loss that sharpened his perceptions of what Young cites as “a poetry of necessity.” As he observes, “No one wants to write an elegy.” But “we simply must.” And in writing, reading, and listening to elegies, understanding, solidarity, and solace are found. Young offers an original and personal analysis of the modern elegy, and uses his own experience with the cycle of mourning to structure the book in sections titled “Reckoning,” “Regret,” “Remembrance,” “Ritual,” “Recovery,” and “Redemption.” And the poems are as diverse and universal as the emotions of loss. Poems by Dylan Thomas, Sharon Olds, Mary Jo Bang, Nick Flynn, Natasha Trethewey, Cornelius Eady, Gerald Stern, Lucille Clifton, and many others exquisitely and empathically translate pain into beauty, sorrow into catharsis. --Donna Seaman