Reviews for Good Poems
Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 August 2002
/*Starred Review*/ No false advertising here; just, as compiler Keillor says, good poems, written accessibly in common language by English-language writers, including a preponderance of twentieth-century hands but also Shakespeare and the bard who chanted the good old ballad "Sir Patrick Spens." Keillor originally chose them to read on his five-minute radio spot, The Writer's Almanac, and selected the poems for being memorable as well as recitable. It is astonishing how sound his judgment is. Poem after poem is as good as, and sometimes even better than, its predecessor. Keillor presents them in 19 topical sections, from "O Lord," made up of prayers sincere and satirical (one of the latter is Thomas Lux's book-opener, "Poem in Thanks," which concludes "Lord, thank you / for the goddamn birds singing"), to "The Resurrection," whose reverent contents are sometimes less Christian than the section title suggests (see "Here" by Grace Paley). That Keillor doesn't shy away from religious feeling is one virtue of the anthology, and his inclusion of vulgarity and earthiness is no vice, though occasionally it seems amazing that he spoke a particular poem in the staid medium of radio. Perhaps the one quality that obtains throughout is homeliness, not in the sense of ugliness but in that of domesticity; even the journeys pondered in the section called "Trips" are neither far away nor exotic. These are poems to live in comfort with all one's life. ((Reviewed August 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2002 September #4
Poetry is a regular feature on Garrison Keillor's NPR radio show A Prairie Home Companion, but for the last five years, it has formed the core of The Writer's Almanac, a daily, five-minute, 7 a.m. show on which Keillor reads a poem. Good Poems selects 350 pieces of verse from among the thousands that have been read on the Almanac for "Stickiness, memorability.... You hear it and a day later some of it is still there in the brainpan." Divided by subject-beginning with "O Lord," moving through "Day's Work," "Sons and Daughters" and through to "The End" and "The Resurrection"-the book includes work by writers past (Burns, Dickinson, Bishop, Williams, Shakespeare) and present: Robert Hass, Lisel Mueller, Tom Disch, among many others. Keillor will do a four-city tour in support of the book, and of the paperback release of his Lake Wobegon Summer 1956. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2003 March
Adult/High School-Keillor, host of the PBS radio show A Prairie Home Companion, has put together a collection of close to 300 poems he has read during yet another PBS broadcast, The Writer's Almanac. In an amusing introduction, he shares his thoughts on what makes a good poem. It's no big surprise that he purports to dislike literary works that, to him, smack of pretentiousness. A few selections openly poke fun at certain kinds of literature ("A Bookmark") or humorously defend humble things ("The Iceberg Theory"). Poems are arranged by 19 general themes, such as "Snow," "Failure," and "A Good Life." Authors range from well-known oldies like Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost to unknowns like C.K. Williams, who "played college basketball and lived for many years in Philadelphia." A delightful section at the end of the book offers biographical sketches of the featured authors. Keillor's choices lean heavily toward works that tell a good story or paint a tangible picture. Alongside poems with bucolic scenery are plenty of selections about everyday emotions and relationships. An outstanding feature of this collection is that the selections are all so accessible-even folks who say they don't like poetry can find something here to enjoy.-Sheila Shoup, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.