Jack Gilbert is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Gilbert lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.
This fifth collection from Gilbert (Refusing Heaven) adds an intense, almost nonstop nostalgia to the gifts his longtime devotees will recognize. After early success, Gilbert spent much of the 1960s and 1970s in rural Europe, far out of the limelight; he lived for years on a Greek island with his first wife, the poet Linda Gregg (to whom he dedicates this volume). Here he remembers his years in Greece, where "the blue Aegean is far down and the slow ships/ far out," and his almost equally bright years in rural Italy-though he also remembers the yearnings and struggles of "Growing Up in Pittsburgh." Even more than landscape or cityscape, though, Gilbert's gravelly blank verse, unrhymed sonnets and looser forms remember the pleasures and sad moments of the body and of the erotic life: "The shameful ardor/ and the shameless intimacy, the secret kinds/ of happiness and the walled-up childhoods," from first kisses to "the way love is after fifty." However tied to autobiography, Gilbert seeks not confessional poetry, but the older, more spiritually alert tradition of Rodin and Rilke: "The world is beyond us even as we own it," "Winter Happiness in Greece" begins; "It is a hugeness in which we climb towards." (Apr.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
"These poems are deeply elegiac, looking back over a long life lived in the various modes one comes to associate with Gilbert: desire, love, longing, and happiness . . . For Gilbert, these poems suggest a satisfaction and peace with all he has done. For the rest of us, we may take Gilbert's final work as a guide." --The Oregonian
"The best poems here are valuable bulletins from a distant, private war fought over resources for affirmation, in which the most precious weapon is the capacity to 'say grace over / almost everything.'" --Poetry