April alone is designated as Poetry Month, but it's a shame we don't celebrate poetry every day of every month. Garrison Keillor has tried to do just that with The Writer's Almanac which offers NPR listeners a poem a day. Now, with his signature Midwestern modesty, Keillor has selected 218 of these poems in a wonderful, wonderfully accessible collection he calls Good Poems. Most are better than good, often with epiphanies both soft and startling, that illuminate shadows, make you laugh and cry, and turn ordinary moments and thoughts into the stuff of eternity. Keillor reads many of the poems himself, though you'll hear Billy Collins, Roy Blount, Jr., Allen Ginsberg and Sharon Olds, among others. And you'll hear modern masterpieces including Raymond Carver, W.H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop—alongside the classics—Robert Burns, Shakespeare, Donne, Dickinson, Whitman, Blake and many more. Copyright 2003 BookPage Reviews
Library Journal Reviews 2003 March #1
The poems here grew out of Garrison Keillor's daily five-minute radio show, The Writer's Almanac. In his introduction, Keillor compares reading a poem on the radio to reading in a high school cafeteria, with radio itself as a backdrop to the listener's life. But, he says, there are some poems that make you stop and turn up the volume, and those are what he's collected here. It's a very eclectic selection, intertwining Shakespeare, Robert Burns, and Emily Dickinson with contemporary poets, many of whom might be unfamiliar even to avid poetry listeners. The poems are arranged by theme, with perfect segues from one to the next, no subject (including excrement) taboo. Contemporary poets who read their own works and those of others include Allen Ginsberg, Robert Bly, Donald Hall, and Sharon Olds. There's a small booklet included, listing title, writer, and reader; there's also an extremely useful list of acknowledgements, so listeners can seek out the books from which these poems were extracted. Make no mistake-Keillor's name, his reading of several poems, and his endorsement is a step up for poetry. With poet Dana Goia heading the National Endowment for the Arts and poet Edward Hirsch heading the Guggenheim Foundation, poetry is suddenly attracting attention, and this program should attract listeners anxious to understand more about the art form. It will not disappoint.-Rochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.