Friday, April 12, 2013

The Burning Bard: The Great Fires by Jack Gilbert

These Great Fires: 1982-1990 
by Jack Gilbert

This week I read Jack Gilbert for the first time.  The poems I read are from his book The Great Fires.  Gilbert is an excellent poet.  One of our great bards.  I need not read all of his books to know this, to make what may seem like a sweeping claim. But I've read enough dead books to feel when a book is real, when the person's words come from are honest and display the rawness that is right.  No differently than a child can tell when an adult is talking down to her and when an adult is not.

Most every poem has hurt with its vision, but hurt in the way that happens when one finds that someone else has put words on life, held it still long enough to say, Yes, me, too, but this way.

The two poems that so far have shifted the world of words are these: "Guilty" and "Married."  The poem "Guilty" must be read out loud and alone, but here is the other:

(from the anthology Earth-Shattering Poems, edited by Liz Rosenberg--Google Books preview)

Those interested in hearing the man behind the poetry might be interested in the Interview with Jack Gilbert at the Paris Review.  The questions are sometimes inane, but the answers never are.