Horoscopes for the Dead
Billy Collins is widely acknowledged as a prominent player at the table of modern American poetry. And in this new collection, Horoscopes for the Dead, the verbal gifts that earned him the title “America’s most popular poet” are on full display. The poems here cover the usual but everlasting themes of love and loss, life and death, youth and aging, solitude and union. With simple diction and effortless turns of phrase, Collins is at once ironic and elegiac, as in the opening lines of the title poem:
I read about you in the newspaper
along with the box scores, the weather, and all the bad news.
Some days I am reminded that today
will not be a wildly romantic time for you . . .
Smart, lyrical, and not afraid to be funny, these new poems extend Collins’s reputation as a poet who occupies a special place in the consciousness of readers of poetry, including the many he has converted to the genre.
The Hunger Moon
This new gathering of Marge Piercy’s poems—energetic, funny, political, full of vitality—brings us the heart of her mature work, the first selected since Circles on the Water in 1982.
Here are poems that chart the milestone events and fierce passions of her middle years: the death of her mother, whom we meet first as a young woman, “awkwardly lovely, her face / pure as a single trill perfectly / prolonged on a violin,” and again as an older woman musing on what the afterlife may hold for her. There is a new marriage which she celebrates not only for romantic beginnings but also for the more intimate details that emerge over time: “love cherishes too the backpockets, / the pencil ends of childhood fears.”
Some poems convey her long-held, never-wavering political convictions, which she declares in language unmistakably and colorfully her own, as when she encourages her feminist readers to go to the opera instead of the movies because at least there the heroine is real, “fifty and weighs as much as a ’65 Chevy with fins.”
Living out to sea on Cape Cod settles her into the rhythm of seasons and provides poems of planting and harvests, odes to tomatoes and roses, tributes to the power and freedom of whales. And in these years she rediscovers her Jewish heritage, celebrating holidays and making of them something new and original.
Talking Into the Ear of a Donkey
With poems ranging from the ghazal form to free verse, Talking into the Ear of a Donkey is Robert Bly's richest and most varied collection. In the title poem, Bly addresses the "donkey"—possibly poetry itself—that has carried him through a writing life of more than six decades.
Delights and Shadows
Ted Kooser is a master of metaphor, a poet who deftly connects disparate elements of the world and communicates with absolute precision. Critics call him a “haiku-like imagist” and his poems have been compared to Chekov’s short stories. In Delights and Shadows, Kooser draws inspiration from the overlooked details of daily life. Quotidian objects like a pegboard, creamed corn and a forgotten salesman’s trophy help reveal the remarkable in what before was a merely ordinary world.