The Gift of Tongues: Twenty-Five Years of Poetry from Copper Canyon Press

Sam Hamill, Author, Sam Hamill, Editor Copper Canyon Press $16 (358p) ISBN 978-1-55659-117-4
As founder of Copper Canyon Press, Hamill, a poet himself, has been at the forefront of small, independent poetry publishers for a quarter of a century. Culled from the more than 150 books published so far by Copper Canyon, the nearly 300 poems here serve as testament to Hamill's goal of presenting poetry in, as he says in his Introduction, a ""great flowering"" of contemporary poetry and translations. Noting that he has ""never tried to establish a `school' of poetics thought around the press,"" he has ""selected for publication poetry that has moved me, poetry that seems to be memorable in some way."" His taste is demonstrated in works as diverse as those of Su Tung-p'o (11th-century China) and Lucille Clifton. Other noted authors include Thomas Centolella, Heather Allen and W. S. Merwin. While Hamill swears allegiance to no poetic school, Copper Canyon works often fall into two categories: images of the connections between humans and nature, such as found in Robert Bringhurst's ""The Song of Ptahhotep"" (""The heart is an animal. Learn where it leads./ Know its gait as it breaks. Know its range,/ how it mates and feeds"") and images from the troubled modern lives, as in Carolyn Kizer's ""Bitch"" (""Now, when he and I meet, after all these years,/ I say to the bitch inside me, don't start growling""). Hamill's prefatory essay and concluding annotated bibliography of all Copper Canyon Books are themselves worth the price of this collection, but as he'd be the first to note, it's the poems that matter most. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1996
Release date: 01/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 356 pages - 978-1-55659-116-7
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