Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Gulf Music: Poems by Robert Pinsky

April is poetry month. Selling poetry in our fast-paced world is a difficult task, but libraries may catch the eye of a reader or two with Gulf Music by Robert Pinsky on display. The bright Buddhist cover with skeletons who may be either dancing or fighting is hard to pass by without examining. It is a bit morbid, but poetry often is.

In referring to the "Gulf" in the title poem, Pinsky is topical and reflective. He does mean for the reader to think about the catastrophe in New Orleans but he brings in the 1900 Galveston hurricane and the gulf that is within us all.

Pinsky's poems can be enjoy in various ways. They simply sound good read aloud. I also like looking for the bits of wisdom or controversy within the verses. In the poem "The Forgetting" he challenges the reader:

Hardly anybody can name all eight of their great-grandparents.
Can you? Will your children's grandchildren remember your name?

I have spent much time in the past working on my family history (not much lately) and I find even I have trouble answering this question on a moment's notice. Are we too doomed to be forgotten?

The second section of the collection deals with the concept of "thing" and includes several thought provoking poems about the life within inanimate objects. Of course, a reader I am particularly interested in the thought of the poem "2. Book." Do other readers dread finishing books?

Pinsky, who was our poet laureate from 1997-2000, is usually accessible and a good choice for a Poetry Month display in the library.

Pinsky, Robert. Gulf Music: Poems. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. ISBN 9780374167493


Keanan Brand said...

Did I not read this post, I might pass such a lurid, bizarre cover, and never pick it up. However, now I'm interested in what's inside. Thanks for the info!

Ami said...

Hi Rick--I thought you might be interested in this! I write the FSG poetry blog, and we just got Pinsky to record an original couplet for us that folks can download to their cell phone. I hope you'll be able to check it out: http://www.fsgpoetry.com/fsg/2008/04/more-from-fsg-p.html