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Good Poems for Hard Times 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0143037675
ISBN-10: 0143037676
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Having revived the radio variety program with A Prairie Home Companion Garrison Keillor turned to broadcasting poetry in the daily short feature The Writer's Almanac. In any given week, probably more people hear him read poems than attend poetry readings and slams. That's good because his taste is excellent. But then, his criteria are golden. For him, a poem is good if it's memorable, recitable, and accessible. The almost-unheard-of-for-poetry sales of Good Poems (2002) suggest that many endorse his taste and criteria, and the sequel to that success gives them no reason to change their minds. As before, the range of poets represented is broad contemporarily (the majority are alive or very recently deceased) and historically (sixteenth to twenty-first century), though not internationally, for, with one exception (Psalm 51), English is these poems' language of origin. As before, too, these are predominantly poems of domesticity and ordinary things, and when a poem touches the genuinely extraordinary, it is related to everyday life; for instance, Stephen Dobyns' "Thelonious Monk" relates a particular instance of a kind of experience virtually everyone has--the discovery of greatness. Even those tired of Lake Wobegon, or who think Keillor's a bigoted Democrat (especially after Homemade Democrat, 2004), should grant that he knows good poetry. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Those ready to whet their appetites would do well to start with Good Poems for Hard Times. (The Cleveland Plain Dealer)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1 edition (August 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143037676
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143037675
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gregg Hazlett on September 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Really what more can be said? Every poem is a good poem- hmmm, perhaps that is why Keillor calls them... Good Poems? I am a blue collar poem reader. I don't want to understand the free form or debate why the writer used a certain word over another, I like poems that take me away to a familiar memory or experience and most of these poems do just that. It is a book best experienced by candle light with a special someone and/or a great bottle of wine.

Thank you Garrison Keillor for another fantastic book of good poems.
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Garrison Keillor calls his latest book of verse GOOD POEMS FOR HARD TIMES. He could just as easily have called it MORE GOOD POEMS or FURTHER GOOD POEMS since he has produced another anthology every bit as good or better than his previous GOOD POEMS. These 185 poems from 61 named poets-- there are a couple of anonymous poems and a psalm or two-- were selected from Keillor's "Writer's Almanac" radio show so they are the kind you listen to and grasp the meaning of while waiting for the light to change. These poems are meant to speak to ordinary people through what Mr. Keillor calls "the last presence of honest speech and the outspoken heart."

It is worth the price of this book for Mr. Keillor's introduction alone. He opines that America is in "hard times" now with "the levels of power firmly in the hands of a cadre of Christian pirates and bullies whose cynicism is stunning," with the perversion of religion, a tax system that favors the rich, when newspapers decline and the censor abounds. He fears for a future when America has "no binding traditions," when the public cannot name senators and gets their political knowledge through television and their "only public life at Wal-Mart." He says further about what is already taking place: "You lie in a hotel bed at night, remote in hand and surf a hundred channels of television. . . and you can drift for hours among the flotsam and you will never see anything that shows that you're in Knoxville or Seattle or Santa Fe or Chicago and nobody will ever speak to you as straightforwardly and clearly as poetry does." That's pretty scary stuff.

Mr. Keillor is totally democratic in his choice of writers.
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When I first saw this anthology in a book store I was prepared to like it less than Keillor's two previous anthologies, "Good Poems" and "Good Poems for Hard Times." I didn't believe that this new collection with it's poems describing different American locations would be as appealing.
I was totally wrong. Keillor is a wonderful anthologist with an unerring eye for poems which cover a broad range of moods from pathos to wry comedy. This collection is eclectic, funny and humane. At a time when so much about America can seem troubling or confused, this collection reminds us what a motley, messy and yet lovable collection of malcontents we Americans can be. Whether or not you've spent any time travelling around this country, this collection will remind you of the sprawling, majestic and quirky grandeur of America.
I loved the book!
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Garrison Keillor continues in his quest to bring poetry to the man and woman on the street in this his third collection of poems "as heard on the Writer's Almanac." Certainly he is to be commended for being the one individual who has done more than anyone else-- with the possible exception of perhaps Bill Collins--to bring new poetry converts into his church. Many is the time that I have sat in my car, having arrived at my destination before Mr. Keiller has finished his poem for the day in that immediately recognizable soothing voice of his, to get a fix for the day from his reading. (And sometimes I have ordered an obscure volume of poetry from an unknown poet he has just read, only to discover that too often Mr. K. has read the best poem in the collection!)

No amateur with words, himself, Mr. Keillor writes a decent introduction about his childhood in Minnesota, family travels, and how grade school teachers ruin poetry for our youth. "Americans are impatient with riddles and so they give poetry a wide berth, knowing from Miss Fernwood's 8th grade English class that a page of writing with an uneven right margin means a series of jokes with no punch lines, a puzzle with no right answers." Too often poets whom Keillor describes as "upward-striving" write about Europe, but not the writers he has selected in this collection of over 260 poems. He gives a whole laundry list of subjects that these poems write about, purely American, and Europe be damned.

Mr. Keillor includes a lot of poems from poets I know and like: Wendell Berry, Robert Bly, Charles Bukowski, Raymond Carver, Billy Collins, Stephen Dunn, Allen Ginsberg, Donald Hall, Robinson Jeffers, Galway Kinnell, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Grace Paley, Kenneth Rexroth, Theodore Roethke, W. D.
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I am so grateful to Garrison Keillor for bringing so many wonderful poems to my awareness that I might not have otherwise known, whether through his "A Writer's Almanac" on the radio or through his poetry anthologies. He has read or collected so many poems that I have come to love from poets whose work I have sought out as a result of learning about them from him. Garrison Keillor is an American treasure (sometimes a Scandinavian treasure?) and I, one among many, treasure him. This new book is a gem. I gave it to my husband for Christmas and since then have been reading aloud from it. So far, I have laughed! and I have cried! It is a marvelous collection from a wise man and it's just what we need. The Introduction alone is worth acquiring the book, but then the poems...! Thank you, Mr. Keillor.
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