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     Volume 5 Issue 103 | July 14, 2006 |

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White Apple and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems 1946-2006
Donald Hall
Houghton Mifflin Company; April 2006

Hall's 60 years of much-honoured work have made him an elder statesman among American poets and a much-honoured exponent of the clear, plain style: this career retrospective (the first since 1990) finds room for all his strengths. Given to formal short work in the 50s, to lengthy verse essays and verse memoirs later on, Hall shows consistent topics and moods: adult life among New Hampshire's farms and mountains, childhood in the Connecticut suburbs, equanimity and nostalgia, satire and self-satire, middle age and old age, regret and reserve. Most original in his long poems from the 80s and 90s, Hall achieved popular success in recent years, in Without (1998) and The Painted Bed (2002), collecting elegies and laments for his late wife, the poet Jane Kenyon, whose life he chronicled in the prose memoir The Best Day the Worst Day (2005). In a month overcrowded with poetry releases, Hall's long-eminent reputation, and the persistent interest in Kenyon, should combine to help this book stand out.

Late Wife: Poems
Claudia Emerson
Louisiana State University Press; September 2005

In Late Wife, a woman explores her disappearance from one life and reappearance in another as she addresses her former husband, herself, and her new husband in a series of epistolary poems. Though not satisfied in her first marriage, she laments vanishing from the life she and her husband shared for years. She then describes the unexpected joys of solitude during her recovery and emotional convalescence. Finally, in a sequence of sonnets, she speaks to her new husband, whose first wife died from lung cancer. The poems highlight how the speaker's rebeginning in this relationship has come about in part because of two couples' respective losses. The most personal of Claudia Emerson's poetry collections, Late Wife is both an elegy and a celebration of a rich present informed by a complex past.

The Collected Poems of C. P. Cavafy: A New Translation
Aliki Barnstone (translator)
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.; March 2006

C. P. Cavafy (1863-1933) has written some of the most powerful poems in history. His work uncannily translates history, the record of the many, into an individual personal document. Though Cavafy is wickedly satirical, many of his poems are located in a landscape of intimacy. Drawing on the spectrum of ancient Greek poetic tradition, his poetry is still internal, whether his speaker is a spoiled rich boy who plans to enter politics or a poor, ostracised, pure and beautiful young man destroyed by poverty and priggish social mores. In these glimmering and lyrical translations, with an introduction and scholarly endnotes co-written with Willis Barnstone, Aliki Barnstone has been faithful to the original Greek, capturing both Cavafy's song and his vernacular in ways neglected in previous translations. Paying close attention to tone and diction, she has employed her well-tuned poet's ear, making Cavafy's verse breathe new music in English.




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