cover image Trying Conclusions: New and Selected Poems, 1961-1991

Trying Conclusions: New and Selected Poems, 1961-1991

Howard Nemerov. University of Chicago Press, $30 (169pp) ISBN 978-0-226-57263-5

In wry poems wary of the world they celebrate, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Nemerov confronts life with insouciant defiance. His measured compassion embraces butterflies that ``regret their closed cocoons,'' the full professor's predicament (``now he has become one of his betters'') and callow girls ``talking of lovers, maybe, and of love: / Not that blind life they'd be the mothers of.'' A social critic, he writes witty, scathing, irreverently funny or profoundly philosophical verses about the daily grind, sex, marriage, pornography, modern literature, Santa Claus (``annual savior of the economy'') and whether poetry is capable of changing the world. This generous selection includes new poems written since his 1988 appointment as poet laureate; they are of varying quality, a few ranking with his finest. (Nov.)