Even So: New and Selected Poems

Gary Young. White Pine Press (Consortium, dist.), $18 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-935210-33-7
Since the 1970s, Young has been publishing almost unbelievably intimate and precise poems, most of them in brief, untitled prose blocks, about the small details of love, marriage, parenthood, and close observation of the world at hand. This retrospective gathers many of these pieces, which, despite the small scope of each one, amount to a highly ambitious body of work taken together. What happens in these pieces is hard to summarize, so here is one, quoted in full: “My son wakes screaming. His dreams are real; he’s riding a horse, and the horse falls down. He’s so young, I don’t know how to tell him all our joy is wrung from that terror. Did you like it, I ask him. Fall down, he cries, fall down. Did you like riding the horse? And he looks at me, stops sobbing, and says, yes.” As is the case in the piece above, Young writes with a unique combination of wisdom and terror, engendering a kind of sad calm, a hard-earned acceptance of life’s difficulty and openness to its beauty: “This morning I smelled freesias in the garden and closed my eyes. Suddenly I was young again, and you were still alive.” (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
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