cover image All of It Singing: New and Selected Poems

All of It Singing: New and Selected Poems

Linda Gregg, . . Graywolf, $24 (213pp) ISBN 978-1-55597-507-4

This much-needed retrospective of the 30-year career of this beloved, if too little known, poet selects from all of Gregg's published books—from her 1981 debut Too Bright to See to 2006's In the Middle Distance— including a group of new poems that show her ongoing investigations into the inner intensities of everyday brutality and grace. Gregg's poems oscillate between hushed reminiscence and savage whispers, always seeming to originate deep within a closely studied self: “You walk... with your life inside you.” The poems travel the globe, set in New England, California, Mexico, Greece and beyond, though wherever her poems go, Gregg never forgets that “if paradise is to be here/ it will have to include her.” Gregg offers up poems of love lost and won, and of an average life lived with extraordinary force, as high art, honing in on little tragedies that lead inexorably to the big one, Death, which more often than not arrives personified: “When death comes, we take off our clothes.” The poems always rejoice, however dark their subjects, in a powerful sense of simply being alive, and at times beauty and happiness break through in moments of stillness and solitude: “It is summer and I am in the middle/ of my life. Alone and happy.” (Sept.)