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101 Poems


5.0 out of 5 stars Poem Cures, November 5, 2007
"101 Poems that could save your life" gives a voice to a number of daily problems. Reading each poem refocuses the mind so you can see problems from various vantage points. Each poem promises to give you a renewed clarity and relief from emotional ailments.

The first poem made me laugh and the introductions to each section are a nice touch. There are poems for Apologies, Bad Hair Days, Bereavement, Big Decisions, Birthday Blues, Career Crisis, Christmas Stress, Divorce, First Dates, Illness, Insomnia, Relationships, Courage, Finances, Parenting (when the baby cries), Retail Therapy, Depression and Stress.

While reading this book you may even find poems you want to read to your friends. There is a beautiful poem, like a message from the grave, that makes death seem to be less permanent and more a change of location.

"Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain."

The poems are all quite clever and most of them make you smile. "If People Disapprove of You" is quite funny and cute. There were a few poems I'd seen before like Kipling's "If." Most of the poems were new to me and that was a nice surprise. So whether you are seeking some respite or just enjoy reading new poems I can recommend this to you. While the author suggests reading a poem for a moment or reason, I think you can also enjoy this book all at once and find it quite pleasing.

~The Rebecca Review


A Crow Doesn't Need a Shadow


An Integration of the Outer and Inner Landscape, October 22, 2006

"Being lazy in the meadow.
it is like placing my head
on a pillow of wind, rivers,
and dreams." ~Ben Burns, Age 8

Writing poetry can be an intensely personal and satisfying experience and while many poets draw on an inner well of experience, this book addresses the poems we write that are inspired by nature. Lorraine Ferra has divided this book up into wonderful chapters that are easy to read and are beautifully illustrated by Diane Boardman.

The chapters include:

Poetry Field Trips
Building a Nature Wordscape
Keeping a nature Journal
Wandering, Noticing, and Writing
Finding a Companion in Nature
Creating a Landscape
Becoming Your Surroundings
Colors in the Natural World
Dreaming Up a Place
Nature in Your Hand
Rhythms in the World and in Words
Growing a Poem Naturally

The chapter on Dreaming up a Place sounded familiar to me since I'm always wishing to revisit places I've been or imagining new ones I'd love to visit if they existed. Lorraine Ferra then asks questions about a sample poem to encourage an understanding and then gives suggestions for writing a poem about your own imaginary world.

"Find a favorite spot outside and sit quietly for a while. A tree would be good to dream in, or you could lie on our back and wonder about the cloud shapes and colors drifting high above you. Wherever you choose to be, allow what is actually there- sounds, smells, tastes, textures, sights - to carry you to an imaginary place." ~ pg. 88

Poems that appear in this book include titles like: In a Snowy Field, Walking in Winter, Thunder, Dandelion, Storm, Shadows, Bees, Inside the Woods, Autumn and A Story in the Snow. What makes these poems so interesting is that they are written by children and you can see the world through a different perspective.


Night swallows the sunlight
and devours the day
It lingers across the plains
cradling the moon and stars
in its hands.

~Richie Browder, Age 8

Lately I realized you could be as inspired by a DVD from Australia as being outdoors in Australia. When reading this book you may want to also expand your world knowledge by viewing nature footage from a variety of countries. I found that this book and watching shows about nature and foreign landscapes enhanced the experience.

A Crow Doesn't Need a Shadow is perfect for teachers or for parents to give to their children. Even adults will enjoy seeing the world in a new way as you integrate the inner and outer landscapes to create magical thoughts.

~The Rebecca Review


Classic American Poetry


5 out of 5 stars=    Pretty Words Painting Pictures in Poetry

Reviewer: The Rebecca Review.com

“The poems in this collection speak of the breadth of America, its diversity, its natural beauty, its history and the growth of its national consciousness.”

This collection is quite impressive and Whitman believed poetry was the voice of the nation. Poetry expresses a nation’s deepest concerns, ambitions and longings.

Poems are read by Liza Ross, Garrick Hagon, William Hootkins, Kate Harper, Alibe Parsons and James Goode.

I was pleased to hear my favorite poem read by Kate Harper. I had not yet read “Wild Peaches,” also by Elinor Hoyt. She is so fanciful in her exploration of words, yet describes words quite perfectly. I think she and author and poet, Frances Mayes would have made perfect friends. I hear Frances Mayes voice in Elinor Hoyt Wylie’s poems. Or maybe it is the other way around. Either way, there is an echo of beauty in their writing.

Pretty Words

Poets make pets of pretty, docile words:
I love smooth words, like gold-enameled fish
Which circle slowly with a silken swish,
And tender ones, like downy-feathered birds:
Words shy and dappled, deep-eyed deer in herds,
Come to my hand, and playful if I wish,
Or purring softly at a silver disk,
Blue Persian kittens, fed on cream and curds.
I love bright words, words up and singing early;
Words that are luminous in the dark, and sing;
Warm lazy words, white cattle under trees;
I love words opalescent, cool, and pearly,
Like midsummer moths, and honied words like bees,
Gilded and sticky, with a little sting.
~ Elinor Hoyt Wylie (1885-1928)

I thought Mr. Hagon read The Star Spangled Banner a bit too fast at the start. But I’ve only heard it sung, so honestly maybe it is supposed to be read fast. I did like how he interpreted The Road Not Taken because he seems to have a casualness in his voice that was well suited to the poem.

I absolutely loved “The Song of Hiawatha from The Wooing: At the doorway of his wigwam.” William Hootkins is brilliant in his interpretation and he paints wonderful pictures with his voice. It is a beautiful love story and has some really cute moments. I also loved his reading of The Raven. It is completely spooky. He almost channels the ghostly feel through his voice. The haunting mood and masterly musical technique of Allen Poe’s writing comes alive with each inflection.

Liza Ross has a lovely lilt to her voice well suited to the reading of “A Lesson in a Picture” by Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt (1836-1919)

Alibe Parsons has the ability to say a word and make it completely vivid in your mind. This was especially apparent in “The wind begun to rock the grass” by Emily Dickinson when she says “scooped” and “unhooked.”

James Goode has a mature sexiness to his voice which emphasizes beauty even in death in “Rendezvous” by Alan Seeger (1888-1916) and then gives a painful passion to “Sympathy” by Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1872-1906). His reading of “Bury Me in a Free Land” is spectacular.

The CD booklet gives information about how poetry changed over the years. You will also discover interesting facts about why poets penned certain poems.

You can really listen to these poems over and over again. They are filled with pretty words painted by beautiful voices.


The Best American Poetry 2001


Poet's Personal Stories and Pleasures, December 28, 2006

"We're bent in the garden planting spring bulbs, pulling up
weeds, and I'm wondering how much longer we'll crouch here
on our knees in the damp soil sorting things out. Guardians
of shrubs and flowers, the first wild cyclamen sipping the sun.
We watch over each other as we watch over our garden,
woolly branches of cacti, fiery pokers of aloes in winter.
Especially during a long drought, after a snowfall, or following
the arcs of missiles on our screen. Flurries of extra caring.
Some mornings we hang on to each other as if we're afraid to let go."
~ pg. 126, Shirley Kaufman

The fascination I currently have with The Best American Poetry series seems born of my curiosity to see how each editor creates a world of poetry they feel possessed to love. The choices made by Robert Hass reflect so accurately his loves and dislikes. You can live in a short moment of his life through reflecting on what it is he enjoys about the selections in this book.

Each poet sees the world so uniquely, but many times they seem to write from a place of loneliness, the desire to speak to another soul of similar substance. This becomes very apparent in the personal stories of pleasure and pain, emotional and real, fresh and trying. At times lines from a poem feel distant and sad while others spring from the page, pouncing on you with the joy of a happy kitten. Poetry has its own rewards and good poetry is the reward for searching through a lot of moments, that while not mediocre to many, may be to you. Your personal taste figures in highly in what you will enjoy and to one person, a poem may mean nothing, and to another, it is the world.

For this reason, I try to view poems from many perspectives. I will say that the poems in this particular volume can be especially perplexing. The truth is, you may read this book one day and feel completely disconnected and come back and read it on another day and wonder what you were thinking.

The mood of this volume is especially intellectual and complex with many literary references, like discussions of the death of Virgina Woolf and the writings of Dostoevsky. The poems are mysteries to be solved and require your full attention and don't seem to immediately welcome you into their intimacy. But then you happen upon a poem like Linda Gregg's "The Singers Change, The Music Goes On" and you know you have happened upon a moment of truth that will endure.

"We live our myth in the recurrence,
pretending we will return another day.
Like the morning coming every morning.
The truth is we come back as a choir."

Allen Grossman's "Enough rain for Agnes Walquist" has some very intriguing thoughts:

" -a smooth stone
passed in a kiss from the mouth
of a Fate into my open mouth
amidst odors of metal
and slamming doors
at the dark end of a railway car
as the train was leaning
on a curve and slowing
to stop-is lost. Lost"

Alice Noteley's poem must be printed sideways because the lines are so long it can't possibly fit on the pages any other way:

"always near the border and never in the snows come again and the purple sinister sky
so I can die and read the books they leave me always alive the letters and the letters letters."

Robert Pinsky's "Jersey Rain has beautiful images of the moon where he talks about "The chilly liquefaction of day to night." James Richardson writes "Ten-second Essays" that are numbered and give you snippets of moments to enjoy and expand upon in your own mind. A few of the lines are quite funny, like: "Say nothing as if it were news" or witty like: "The road not taken is the part of you not taking the road."

Mary Ruefle's "Furtherness" is especially beautiful in the most poignant of ways as she writes about death. The poem I loved the most was "Apple" by Susan Stewart which made me long for the Apple tree in my grandmother's yard.

"You can roast late apples
in the ashes. You can run
them in slices on a stick.
you can turn the stem to
find the letter of your love."

Most poets will find Bernard Welt's "I stopped writing poetry" rather amusing. I loved his line: "It's a terrible thing to receive exactly the attention you want." The entire poem gives insight into why poets write in the first place and any poet could relate to: "still a breeze reaches me from time to time fragrant of verse."

If you read this book and stopped at page 58, you would miss an entire world! I was so happy I kept reading.

~The Rebecca Review


The Best American Poetry 1992


Connection with the Unexpected, February 7, 2007

"What I like in poems is encountering the unexpected and I enjoy not knowing where I am or what comes next." ~ Charles Bernstein

Reading the entire "Best American Poetry" series would seem a fitting challenge for any poet or lover of poetry. Along the way I've felt various levels of involvement in the emotions presented as images flashed across the inner landscapes of my mind. In "The Best American Poetry 1992" I felt as if I was watching a movie as images came at me in their startling poetic beauty. I mostly felt stunned, in awe of the power of poetry to recreate moments with vivid inflection.

Guest editor Charles Simic presents a highly memorable introduction with images of members of an Amazon tribe, flute players and the sense that poets are in some way writing love letters to God. To be honest, I knew this book would be highly memorable when I held the book in my hands and noticed the artwork on the cover. This book speaks to you before you open the first page. You know that within these pages, mirrors will appear.

My thought while reading this book was mostly about why we long to read poetry. What drives this desire to read books of poetry? Is this our souls longing for a love letter from God or are we seeking some substance from the invisible worlds of thought where at times words describing reality can be more authentic than reality itself?

While reading these poems you may find yourself facing the shock of darkness, the glare of light and something between that is beautiful and shimmering. The desire to share experience, perhaps born of loneliness for words, is so evident.

"There were barred windows glaring at him
from the other side of the street
while the sun deepened into a smoky flare

that scalded the clouds gold-vermillion.
It was just an ordinary autumn twilight--
the kind he had witnessed often before--"
~Man on a Fire Escape

The poems Charles Simic chose for this anthology reveal well researched reflections, complex intricacies and startling beauty presented like a gourmet feast of words. Robert Bly reveals sadness in nature while bringing humor to a bird's tenacity. Daniel Halpern paints images of two cats and their similar desire for attention. Robert Morgan's "Honey" studies a beehive and seems to explore deeper emotional implications. Liam Rector presents a poem about Lighting Bugs that created in me scent memories of freshly cut grass and sweltering summer nights.

David St. John's poem almost left me blind, the way beautiful words all in a row leave me dizzy and intoxicated. Here, he takes us into a woman's "black telescope of the pupil," a mysterious world where he finds beauty and danger:

"Emerging Venus steps up along the scalloped lip
Of her shell, innocent and raw as fate, slowly
Obscured by a fluorescence that reveals her simple, deadly"

I love the end of the poem the most, where he refers back to a line earlier in the poem, tying the story together, a completion of thought that is rather satisfying.

Rachel Srubas writes of marriage and then later describes her feelings about poetry and love: "...in order to comment on the poem, I have to talk about love, which, I've learned, plunges us into our darkest histories and then brings us back up still breathing, with artifacts to show for ourselves."

What is intriguing about this book is the explanations of the inspiration behind the poems, so often missing in many anthologies, well, most of them. The Best American Poetry series gives us a window into which we can peer and what we see often teaches us about the truthfulness of poetry's expression.

"The Best American Poetry 1992" left me a little speechless with its overwhelming creative power. The power to transport you into a poet's world, imaginary or real. That power of connection that makes you feel as if you were there writing at your desk (like Lawrence Raab) when the monster appeared.

"Behind him: the dark scribbles of trees
in the orchard, where you walked alone
just an hour ago, after the storm had passed,
watching water drip from the gnarled branches,
stepping carefully over the sodden fruit.
At any moment he could put his fist
right through that window."
~The Sudden Appearance
of a Monster at a Window

~The Rebecca Review


The Best American Poetry 1999

The Best American Poetry 1999

Sea of Faith, February 5, 2007

David Lehman's Forewords in The Best American Poetry books are especially fun to read if you have any interest in how poetry infuses our culture with creativity. The foreword in the 1999 anthology is no exception and is a rather scintillating read with numerous pop culture references and examples of how poetry appears in movies, TV shows and magazines.

Robert Bly's introduction is stunning and his poetry selections have a vibrancy, humor and depth that is rare in many poetry collections. His discussion about how we analyze poetry or meet the words soul to soul continues with stunning wisdom:

"So he or she who loves art and culture will honor all these Chambers of the Mind. But at the moment an artist is about to set down his or her poem, the wise artist will let them all go, bless them with gratitude and rejection, until nothing is left but the snowfall touching the soul."

Dick Allen's "The Selfishness of the Poetry Reader" is humorous although it seems to speak of a frustration or a loneliness at being so interested in poetry that he quotes lines at breakfast and keeps books by his bed. No one else seems to understand...

"And I'm certain I'm the single man who owns
a house with bookshelves,
who drives to work without a CD player,
taking the long way, by the ocean breakers."

"Sea of Faith" by John Brehm has a comforting conclusion with images of magical blue waters and a life that is easier to live when all your questions have been answered. Billy Collins' poem "Dharma," about his dog, is one of my favorite poems and I felt compelled to read it to my husband, who thought at first I was referring to a TV show.

John Haines' "The Last Election" paints an image of a world at peace, it is an interesting idea, but seems to speak of a world where everyone becomes much more intimate with their own worlds, turning off the TV. Interesting thoughts and not watching the news as often does make one less stressed.

Tony Hoagland's somewhat sardonic poem "Lawrence" will amuse anyone familiar with the writings of D.H. Lawrence. At times while reading this book I had the feeling of how disappointing it must be to know so much about an author and to walk in a world that runs hurriedly by with callous disregard. Some of the poets even feel lonely walking amongst their peers, as they are so deep in thought about the world and have so many literary references to draw from. David Ray seems to make a study of Hemingway's Garden and William Kulik takes us into a comedy with "The Triumph of Narcissus and Aphrodite."

Jennifer Michael Hecht's "September" is startling in beauty with casual ideas flowing from the page, winding their way right around your heart. One line struck me as especially poignant:

"Tonight, there are people who are so happy,
that they have forgotten to worry about tomorrow."

The beauty of The Best American Poetry series is that each year a different guest editor helps to select the poems and now and then you will fall in love with the same poems. This book was especially fun to read and is one of my favorites from the 90s.

If you enjoy poems by Billy Collins, I can also highly recommend "Picnic, Lightning, look for the poem "I Go Back to the House for a Book" and "Questions About Angels," which has the most brilliant of lines in a poem: "I would feel the pages of books turning inside me like butterflies." I also loved "The Art of Drowning." OK, I admit, I love all his books.

~The Rebecca Review





Poetry Review Pages at This Site: 

A Night Without Armor

Perfectly Said

The Rain at Midnight

Long for This World & Time's Fancy


Questions About Angels

The Ceremonies of Longing


Written with a Spoon


On Entering the Sea



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