Top positive review
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A Wonderful Volume. A Perfect Introduction to Many Good Poets.
on September 28, 2015
What a trove this book is. You might think "What does humorist Garrison Keillor know about poetry?" Quite a lot, it turns out. This is a wonderful anthology of poetry especially for anyone discovering poetry for the first time or rediscovering poetry after a bad high school English experience. Most of the poems in this volume are quite accessible.
Keillor chose his poems from the past as well as the present but with the selections skewed more toward contemporary poets. I found many gems: all the poems by Raymond Carver and Charles Bukowski are oustanding, "Poem to be Read at 3 A.M." by Donald Justice, "He Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven" by Yeats, "Sonnet XLIII" by Millay, "The Music One Looks Back On" by Stephen Dobyns, and "Bison Crossing Near Mt. Rushmore" by May Swenson are some of my very favorites in this thick volume. I read only a few poems at a time, so this book took me more than 5 months to read.
As with any anthology, I found a few poems I didn't like: "Piano" by D.H. Lawrence, "Sweater Weather" by Sharon Bryan, "Year's End" by Richard Wilbur, and "Lazy" by David Lee were among the few poems I thought were bad. And I'm still struggling to like anything by Dickinson. Keillor includes several of her poems.
There are a couple of minor miscues in the book. For some reason, Keillor left out biographies for Robert Kinsley and H. W. Longfellow. And one poem - "Sir Patrick Spens" - was much shorter in "Good Poems" than it is in another volume of poetry that I have. This makes me question the editing of other poems in the volume.
I can highly recommend this book of poems. There is something in it for all readers of poetry. Be sure to read the bios as you go; they provide useful back story to what you are reading.
One word of caution: the Kindle version of this book is terrible. Don't waste your money; be sure to read a paper copy.