March 17, 2007

Review: Collected Poems 1947-1997

Collected Poems 1947-1997

Harper Collins, $39.95 cloth, ISBN 0-06-113974-2

This is it. This is the American story told in poetry of blood, music, madness, and light. This is the 1,200 page monster of the 20th century journey that formed one of the greatest accomplishments in U.S literature and should have been granted the Nobel Prize while its author was alive. This is the work of genius, of pure humanity, and the writings of an explorer whose greatest strength was knowing exactly where he was going as he wound up, in legendary poem after poem, in places he never dreamed he would. This is “Howl” and “Kaddish” changing American poetry forever. This is Plutonium Odes and White Shroud reminding us a gifted master walked among us and many didn’t even know it. This is a huge book that must be read in the time of Bush and in the time of poetry. It is a mind-blowing escape into reality and the humming hallways of language that erase human foibles and rewrite them as angelic actions of prophets.

by Ray Gonzalez