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Gathered in this volume readers will find more than fifty years of poems by the incomparable Jack Gilbert, from his Yale Younger Poets prize-winning volume to glorious late poems, including a section of previously uncollected work.
There is no one quite like Jack Gilbert in postwar American poetry. After garnering early acclaim with Views of Jeopardy (1962), he escaped to Europe and lived apart from the literary establishment, honing his uniquely fierce, declarative style, with its surprising abundance of feeling. He reappeared in our midst with Monolithos (1982) and then went underground again until The Great Fires (1994), which was eventually followed by Refusing Heaven (2005), a prizewinning volume of surpassing joy and sorrow, and the elegiac The Dance Most of All (2009). Whether his subject is his boyhood in working-class Pittsburgh, the women he has loved throughout his life, or the bittersweet losses we all face, Gilbert is by turns subtle and majestic: he steals up on the odd moment of grace; he rises to crescendos of emotion. At every turn, he illuminates the basic joys of everyday experience.
Now, for the first time, we have all of Jack Gilbert’s work in one essential volume: testament to a stunning career and to his place at the forefront of poetic achievement in our time.
“Gilbert’s career-embracing Collected Poems is [a] revelation, almost certainly among the two or three most important books of poetry that will be published this year.” –Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“Emotionally wrenching . . . Gilbert’s poems do know something of our lives and attempt to interpret the Babel of our hearts—and reflect, rather than petrify, that impossibility.” –Abigail Deautsch, The Wall Street Journal
“A one-off individualist, like the finest American poets of his generation . . . Gilbert deftly sidesteps facility, writing unembellished, but also not prosy verse.” –The Star-Ledger
“Hard-won poems about the joy and complexities of romantic love, about grief and about the power of experience deeply felt . . . Gilbert’s poems have felt wise beyond their years and yet youthful, full of contradictions that give them life . . . All poetry lovers will want this books.” –Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“At the heart, the power of a poet’s work becomes a matter of penetration: How deeply does it insinuate itself into the core of our experience? . . . We continually return to the work of Jack Gilbert because he gets under our skin. Simply put, my own solitude would feel more desolate if it had not been fortified by an engagement with his.” –The Washington Post
“What Gilbert reaped from his cultivation is invaluable to any reader. No one else in recent memory has written out of the ruins and failure of a life—divorce, old age, death—with as much satisfaction not for what was achieved, but for what was lived.”—Jeremy Bass, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Of Gilbert’s favored words, probably none conveys better the poet—his life, his work, his ambitions for both—than magnitude . . . Living and writing, though distant for Gilbert, are never much separated. Regarding both he rails against the mediocre, the inconsequential . . . The satisfaction of having his five original collections gathered into a single volume makes Collected an important literary event.” –John Penner, Los Angeles Times