Jack Gilbert was born in Pittsburgh. He is the author of The Great Fires: Poems 1982--1992; Monolithos, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Views of Jeopardy, the 1962 winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize. He has also published a limited edition of elegiac poems under the title Kochan. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Gilbert lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.
According to Gilbert, the best poetry registers the feelings inside of what happened. If so, then most of the poems in this fourth collection would qualify as best. The book is dedicated to the two women who served as muses to Gilbert's earlier volumes: Linda Gregg, Gilbert's first wife (Monolithos, a nominee for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle award) and Michiko Nogami, Gilbert's second wife (Kochan). Generally, the confessional, free-verse poems in this collection recall everyday circumstances, from the sound of an oar to a woman brushing her hair to the shine on the back of a spoon. But some poems go deeper. "Flying and Falling," is a pain-filled comparison of failed marriage and the flight of Icarus. Another poem, "By Small and Small," sadly recalls Nogami's death. Several poems-the title poem and "The End of Paradise"-focus on the 79-year-old poet's own mortality with an intensity that suggests poetry isn't merely a young man's art. Recommended for all libraries.-Diane Scharper, Towson Univ., MD Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.