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News of the World: Poems Hardcover – October 6, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pulitzer-winner Levine invites readers into familiar landscapes—Detroit, gritty America, forests chock-full of truth and beauty, the shaded woods/ where I go evening after evening/ to converse with tangled roots and vines—in his 20th books of poems. He continues to romanticize hardscrabble living—pumping well water, working in an auto factory—but this collection is less an update about the current political or social situation than it is news about Levine himself. He writes in an autobiographical mode, in long stanzas that flirt with iambic pentameter, while also encouraging the reader to participate as he describes An actual place in the actual city/ where we all grew up. Prose poems treat adventures in far away places (You may hear that Australia is a continent. I lived there, I know it's an island) while other poems recall Levine's past: When my brother came home from war/ he carried his left arm in a black sling/ but assured us most of it was there. While Levine charts no new territory, fans will happily get what they came for. (Oct.)
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“All the earmarks of a valedictory testament, what with its autumnal ruminations on personal history and its haunted remembrances of things past, yet Levine is too canny a craftsman to settle for dutiful curtain calls, and too much the hard-bitten ironist to fall prey to false nostalgia. If certain obsessions here are bound to strike longtime readers as old news (innocence and experience, manual labor and class struggle), the visceral language that fleshes the poems out still feels hot off the press.” —David Barber, The Boston Globe

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (October 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307272230
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307272232
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,294,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Rupert Merson on February 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Philip Levine isn't published over here in the UK. If it weren't for a spell in Boston fifteen years ago I would never have come across him, and if it weren't for Amazon I wouldn't now be able to keep up with his new books as they come out. If this volume ever does appear in the UK it will probably have to be with a different title, otherwise it will share the name of one of the UK's least poetic tabloids. But I hope that won't put off UK readers who stumble across it in the meanwhile. Levine is a wonderful writer, and this is his best book since The Simple Truth. Levine writes better elegies than anyone else in English. Unlike too many modern poets, Levine writes poems that are as clear as running water, and just as refreshing. He writes with grace and elegance about ordinary people in ordinary as well as extraordinary situations. More than with his previous books,the poems in this volume echo and reflect each other and create an aggregate that is greater than the sum of the books parts. There isn't a weak poem in this book, and if you are a dipper then you can dip anywhere here - but read through from beginning to end the book provides an extraordinary cumulative experience - moving, honest, insightful, reflective, humane. Lastly, the book (mine is the first printing) is exceptionally well produced on lovely, creamy, textured paper. It makes such a difference.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Philip Levine, winner of the National Book Award for "What Work Is" and the Pulitzer Prize for "The Simple Truth" offers here a collection that speaks to all five senses with powerful imagery and subtle perceptions of, well, the world and our lives in it.

Levine is more than a poet. He is a storyteller. Many of the poems in this volume could be read as stories, or reflections, of a life lived fully. Work, friends, love, and the mix of joy and sadness that aging brings about. Levine does not shy away from naming names (his blind brother, a former air force man, or the German author W.G. Sebald).

Another constant in Levine’s vast work is the tactile sense of working with your hands, of feeling the world not only in your heart (or your pocketbook), but with the tips of your fingers and the muscles in your arms—or in your back. His style is matter-of-fact, not pretentious or stridently clever, but sensitive and considerate of the reader’s intelligence and sensitivity.

Conversation, or direct address, is another pleasure Levine serves at just the right temperature. Here, for example, in a section from the poem "Our Valley," where Levine invokes both tangible topography and the unknown: “...and at that moment you can almost believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass, something massive, irrational, and so powerful even the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it. You probably think I’m nuts saying the mountains have no word for ocean...”

With that, Levine invites us into the intimacy of both his reminiscence of the past and his imagination of what’s awaiting beyond the ‘pass.’ And if this weren’t poetry, we would call it suspense, or mystery, or memoir, or maybe a travelogue that reports a journey both to the past and into the future, traveling on the same uneven plane.

This review is by Avraham Azrieli, author of "The Jerusalem Inception" and other novels.
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Phillip Levine is a master. He makes poems look easy because the clarity of his language rings with the authority of experience. These poems reflect on memory and time's passage. His usual themes of the meaning of work , of making a living with one's hands continue in this volume and are fresh and wise and touching. Returning to Levine in this book, one feels the familiarity of a grandfather whose stories one wants to hear again and again. Like all the best poets, he is trustworthy and precise and inspires the reader to a similar honesty. And his rythyms, without ostentation, are beautiful.
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