Published by: Penguin Books
Rating: Highly Recommended
Brief Editor’s Bio:
A blurb on the inside jacket cover for Garrison Keillor states that he is an author based in Minnesota who has written The Prairie Companion and a wide assortment of novels, and that he is a member of the Academy of American Arts and Letters.
By reading the introduction, however, it is possible to get a much better sense of who Keillor is as a writer and person—which goes to show how much a few pages of personal prose can reveal about an individual. In Keillor’s case, the introduction unveils a writer who sees poetry as a uniting force that, when done just right, lends courage to readers regardless of their age or circumstances.
So it is no wonder then that Keillor pulled together a thick collection of poems under the title mentioned in, well, the title of this posting.
Good Poems for Hard Times:
A solid selection of poetry is always welcome, especially when they come from a wide variety of writers, are easily accessible, and have humorous and similarly memorable qualities about them. Good Poems for Hard Times, I’m happy to say, is just such a collection. Done in tribute “To the English teachers of America, doing good work every day, with admiration and affection from an old student,” Keillor breaks the contents of his anthology down into quirky sections like “Kindness to Snails,” “The Lust of Tenderness,” and “Simpler Than I Could Find Words For”—titles which, oddly enough, well match the poems place into each categories.
Many anthologies for literature courses, as an example, tend to pull together a few poems from a handful of well-known historically well-known poets, in addition to short stories and examples of other types of literature. And it’s true that certain poems become classics and pop up again with good reason for exemplifying certain concepts in literary studies, alongside their own truths and attention to the world.
But what makes Good Poems for Hard Times refreshing is that although there are poems by well-known poets like E. E. Cummings, Muriel Spark, William Shakespeare, and Robert Frost, there are many poets whose work might never pop up during undergraduate or graduate studies into literature or creative writing—and seeing them in such abundance here is like a reminder not to overlook all the poets who are currently practicing their craft and deserve to have their work read.
The poems themselves also stand out for having noteworthy titles that catch the eye right away. For instance, pieces like “Why I take Good Care of my Macintosh” by Gary Snyder, and “The Poet’s Occasional Alternative” by Grace Paley can strike close to home for contemporary readers (after all, poems about the connection people have with their personal laptops or computers is something that doesn’t show up very often, oddly enough). Many of these poems use clear, straightforward language to express their mini-narratives, and can invoke an unexpected chuckle or two.
In other words, Good Times for Bad Times certainly is a collection worth having around to clear up anyone’s mood during cloudy moments in life.