Archive for category Poetry

Review: The Back Chamber

The Back ChamberThe Back Chamber by Donald Hall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Probably not a good idea to sit down and read an entire book of poetry in one sitting. I like Hall’s poetry but this volume seemed more loose and sprawling than I like, and of course, at this stage in his life, it seems filled with regret at the turns of life and filled with his own mortality.

That said, there were parts that took my breath away, especially a poem called “Advent”:

“When I see a cradle rocking
What is it that I see?
I see a rood on the hilltop
Of Calvary…”

And his sly and irreverent take on things is still evident, particularly in the poem “Creative Writing”:
“Translating Virgil, eighty lines a day, Keats never did pick up his MFA.”

Hall writes about an octogenarian poet trying to find metaphors in a thesaurus, trying to make poetry even though his work has been taken out of new anthologies. I love that the last line of that poem is “If no one will ever read him again, what the f**k?”

I know I would have loved this book more if I’d read it on paper instead of an advance reader copy on Kindle; poetry should be seen in format and touched while reading, the way opera can’t be fully enjoyed just by sound, but also by sight. (Am I crazy to think this way?)

Advance Reader Copy courtesy of publisher.  Projected release date September 13, 2011

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