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This Morning Hardcover – March 13, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

“Unlike too many poets who tumble into print at the first twitch of feeling, Michael Ryan takes time to listen to himself, and such listening contributes immeasurably to the subtlety of his address to the reader . . . [He] reminds us on every page that poems can be about lives, and about them in ways most urgent and delicate.” —William H. Pritchard, The Nation

“The twin ancient powers of poetry are story and song,” Michael Ryan said in a recent interview. “I like a lot of both.” And both are here in This Morning in glorious abundance: graceful complex narratives and tight formal lyrics, edgy humor, affecting music, and insistent clarity always in the service of the heart. He can be deeply funny and extremely moving, often at the same time. No other living poet possesses Ryan’s range of tone and technique in rendering the great subjects of art and life: sex, mortality, loss, and love (both conjugal and paternal). Even his most apparently autobiographical writing penetrates to the universal subject within it. Like Dickinson in her poetry, his personal life interests him primarily as an instance of human life. His artistic discipline is thus a spiritual discipline, and the vital spirit infusing these poems rises from the depths of isolation transformed by the joy of loving other people persistently and generously. This Morning is the work of a contemporary American master.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Michael Ryan’s New and Selected Poems

“Clearly Ryan is a poet who’s prepared to wait until the poem, and the book, are just right, and his reward is that his work shows a steady deepening, a classical precision of language. Always the reader senses Ryan not just making poems but using poetry to scrutinize experience with a strange honesty. He is a poet to read and reread.”—Grevel Lindop, Poetry London

“Ryan is a scrupulously observant poet with a gift for going for the jugular. A ravenous spiritual appetite drives his best work. He has mastered at least two contemporary modes. One is a taut, Larkinesque lyric. Another is a free-verse narrative that takes an odd anecdote and interrogates it to uncover its significance with a large sweep and unremitting tension. He puts individuals before us so that we can’t look away or forget them. His work is finely honed, provocative, questing, and humane.”—Edward Hirsch, Washington Post Book World

New and Selected Poems includes pain and fear but also surprise, joy, laughter, everything human.”—David Kirby, New York Times Book Review

New and Selected Poems reminds us how much we have relied on this poet to forge a path for us in plain style. His much-praised “ear” and his sense of music and formal structure are represented here as well as his notorious take-no-prisoners humor. We are in the presence of a compassionate and morally aware sensibility, the poems of a grown-up poet.”—Carol Muske-Dukes, Los Angeles Times

“Ryan’s poems have always felt as if they needed to be written. They seem to exist because of some pressure to respond, not because of a facility for language alone. This is a rare quality among poets. The commitment to it is as hard-won, and real, as any you are likely to find in poetry.”—David Rivard, American Poetry Review


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (March 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547684592
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547684598
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,273,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Michael Ryan has garnered a lot of attention from his previous books of poetry as well as his published memoir, autobiography and essay collections. After being introduced to his talent in this collection THIS MORNING the next order of business is to search for more. This is a man who can plumb the depths of dark emotions, deal with issues of death and dying, sexual probings, and still celebrate the tongue in cheek humor of human frailty - including his own. He mixes his style of writing, at times incorporating obvious rhyme and at other times hiding the rhyming words in places with one poem that makes them jump off the page and give another reason to immediately re-read that poem again.

On attribute of his that is particularly unique and refreshing is his ability to take a subject that is loaded with historic response and switch the emphasis so that the reader takes a different journey with him. For example, in his poem DACHAU we feel ready to revisit the horrors of the camps, but instead the port simply walks though the little village where the inhabitants are more engaged with life as it is now. He inserts the following: 'It means humans can do anything/to one another and go on living' and then he reflects on reading about Iraq and Guantánamo tortures and his subtle point is made.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
'This Morning' is my first encounter with Michael Ryan's poetry and I selected it because it explored themes I enjoy. When I finished it the first time, I pondered it. Then I read it a second time and I came by my overall rating by averaging the ratings I gave to each poem. And there was definitely a range. Only two received 5 star ratings; three received 1 star; a handful received 4 stars; and the majority received 3 stars. For another reader, though, the results might skew differently.

The thing with poetry is that it's truly a personal experience. One reader may connect with a certain turn of phrase whereas another might consider it trite. And when I read poetry, I try to rate it on its own merits rather than saying one poet or poem is like another, so it might help to know what I look for in poetry.

I prefer poetry that has a steady underlying and unmistakable heartbeat, not necessarily achieved through lyricism, but through syntactical choices. This draws me into the poem. That is where some of Ryan's poems lost me--they had what I'd call chronic cardiac arrhythmia. In some instances it worked for the poem--this slight devation in rhythm--to bring attention to a particular point or theme. But it didn't work in others.

Issues of rhythm aside, I also enjoy lyricism and wordplay. Ryan was masterful at painting a scene and a moment with broad brush strokes as in 'Melanoma Clinic Infusion Center Waiting Area' and 'Here I Am'. A few of his poems were thought-provoking like 'In the Mirror' and clever like 'Mug' and poingnant like 'My Young Mother'. Though a few other poems did graze the surface of gratuitous vulgarity (which is where I say that people either annoyed by or who would rather avoid profanity should skip this collection).
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When I read Ryan's poem "The Dog," in the American Poetry Review, I wanted to read more of Ryan's work. The poem's complex consideration of mourning, that fact that many Americans have only a superficial relationship with their next door neighbors, and the narrator's struggle to deal with both through reluctant care of a neighbor's dog makes for a tragicomic poem. However, many of the poems in This Morning are much less complex. The first poem in the collection, "Sixteeth-Birthday Dinner," made we worry that this book would be another mid life crisis book, but thankfully the poem rarely takes that path. Some poems, like "Splitsville" are clever with its back and forth lines " If you get yours I get mine./ How does never sound to you?" and others like "Garbage Truck" and "The Daily News" are worth reading, but otherwise I finished this collection disappointed and underwhelmed.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Many poets nowadays are wary of writing or reading about the urbane, the ordinary, the middle class (even though a great deal of them are all three) but not Michael Ryan. Like Robert Duncan or Charles Bukowski he is frank about where he comes from and who he is, no affectation involved. Being one of those fantastique aforementioned poets myself I found it difficult to say anything in praise or blame of this collection, though I can definitely say it expanded my horizons. The most effective poem in this sparse, extremely accessible collection was the poet's elegiac piece on his mother:


'live your values' said a voice
that wasn't a voice at all.
although I heard it on the phone
when I picked up the phone to call

my mother, who died
six months ago.
What was I thinking of?
I know

she's dead. I touched her hands
(a knuckle, really - and very lightly)
as she lay in the silk-lined box.
I absolutely

couldn't kiss her sunken face goodbye
as others were able to.
After I knelt near her a while,
there was nothing else to do

because she needed nothing form me.
How can a life be 'done'?
Done also what life was to her
alone, which no one

else can comprehend,
even (or especially) her son.
Is this why I forgot she's dead
and picked up the phone

to punch in her number
believing she'd answer,
and my brain said what she'd say
to me? Is she not done with me?

This is a formidable piece and a meditation on mortality which I will certainly never forget. Though I admittedly prefer poetry from the aether as they say, I will be on the lookout for what Michael Ryan does in the future.
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