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Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud Hardcover – April 6, 2009

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Pinsky, poet, scholar, and poetry advocate, has been a motivating and innovative force in the great popularization of poetry. His Favorite Poem Project brought poetry lovers of all ages and tastes together in a stream of excellent anthologies, including Poems to Read (2002), and he continues to match erudition with unabashed fun in his latest dynamic endeavor. Pinsky’s mission is to share both the “intellectual and bodily” pleasures of poetry, the latter best appreciated when poetry is read out loud—hence this ebullient read-aloud anthology. With an oceanic knowledge of poetry and a musical ear, Pinksy has assembled an astonishingly vital, enjoyable, centuries-spanning array cleverly organized by form. Here are beautiful, mournful, and funny love poems; narrative poems; odes; complaints; celebrations; parodies; and insults by both celebrated and obscure poets. A CD of Pinsky’s expert readings accompanies the book, but the point is to do it yourself. Readers who read these wisely selected poems out loud, whether to themselves, a sweetheart, friend, cat, or plant, will be amazed at what they discover. --Donna Seaman

About the Author

Robert Pinsky is the author of eight collections of poetry including, most recently, his Selected Poems. His translation The Inferno of Dante won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry. His CD PoemJazz, with Grammy-winning pianist Laurence Hobgood, was released in 2012. As United States Poet Laureate, Pinsky founded the Favorite Poem Project (www.favoritepoem.org), in which thousands of Americans shared their favorite poems. That project gave rise to the previous anthologies, Americans’ Favorite Poems and An Invitation to Poetry, with each poem accompanied by readers’ comments. Pinsky teaches at Boston University.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 508 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Har/Com edition (April 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393066088
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393066081
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Most poems should in fact be read aloud. Part of the power of poetry is in the spoken word, the sound that reverberates around the head and through the heart and mind. Poetry is in fact a non-linear expression that engages more than the denotative sense of words. It is a way of achieving through various poetic devices: allusion, alliteration, consonance, rhythm, rhyme, sound and even typography, a depth of meaning and experience not possible from mere prose.

Still it is true that some poems sound better read aloud than others, and Robert Pinsky, U.S. Poet Laureate 1997-2000, has come up with a collection of some of the best ever written, designed to please both ear and mind.

The organization is in seven parts. Part I features "Short Lines, Frequent Rhymes," e.g., Gwendolyn Brooks, "We Real Cool"; Robert Frost, "Dust of Snow"; Gerard Manley Hopkins, "Spring and Fall"; Edgar Allan Poe, "Fairy-Land"; five by Emily Dickinson, and twenty-six more. Notice that for the most part the selected poems are not necessary the poet's best or best known. And perhaps the greatest accomplishment in English that might fall under the heading of "Short Lines, Frequent Rhymes," namely Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" doesn't appear perhaps because of its length. I would have liked to have seen included e e cummings's "anyone lived in a pretty how town."

Part II "Long Lines, Strophes, Parallelisms" features the first three chapters of Ecclesiastes; "When You're Lying Awake" from W.S. Gilbert; Allen Ginsberg's inspired musings on Walt Whitman, "A Supermarket in California"; a couple from Walt Whitman and fourteen others.
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Format: Hardcover
Mr Pinsky's anthology is truly a pleasure, introducing this reader to many excellent poems he had not hitherto encountered, notably Fulke Greville's "Epitaph for Sir Philip Sidney," Ogden Nash's "Columbus," and Stuart Dischell's "Days of Me." There is a bias toward the formal -- or do I overstate, with Allen Ginsberg, Lloyd Schwartz, W. C. Williams, and others represented? We are grateful for the inclusion of lighthearted poems, including Edward Lear's "How Pleasant to Meet Mr Lear," of parodies such as "Chard Whitlow" by Henry Reed -- an effective lampoon of T. S. Eliot -- and of savage poems like Jonathan Swift's "The Lady's Dressing Room."

All of these poems, from Wyatt to Williams, from Greville to Ginsberg, read well aloud, as Mr Pinsky believes they should. As an editor, his choices are catholic (small c) and capacious. Unexpected selections exist side by side with "traditional" choices. In an anthology which stresses the vocal quality of verse, we are surprised by the exclusion of W. H. Auden and Dylan Thomas, but are grateful to see old favourites such as Countee Cullen, W. B. Yeats, Emily Dickinson, and the glorious poets of the 16th and 17th centuries. Pinsky's introductions and editorial comments are teacherly without ever becoming burdensomely didactic. Accessible, inviting, intelligent, surprising -- this anthology is highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this as a gift for a young lady I know, age 20 who loves poetry and she absolutely loved this book. She even memorized a bunch of her favorites.

Great variety.
Not boring at all.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent collection of poems. I bought this copy for my friend after getting tired of sending him to search the internet for the poems I wanted to discuss. Great variety of timeless poems
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