"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
, November 5, 2007
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
~The Rebecca Review
A Crow Doesn't Need a Shadow
An Integration of the Outer and Inner Landscape, October
"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
"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
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.
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
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
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
~ 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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
"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:
Night Without Armor
Rain at Midnight
Long for This World & Time's Fancy
Ceremonies of Longing
with a Spoon
Entering the Sea