ALMOST PARADISE: New and Selected Poems and Translations

Sam Hamill, Author . Shambhala $15.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-59030-184-5

Coming on the heels of the Poets Against the War anthology and Web site effort, and of Hamill's stepping-down as the founding editor of Copper Canyon press, this valedictory volume feels perfectly timed. It includes work from 13 collections, as well as new poems, and a variety of translations from Chinese and Japanese classics. Hamill is at his best working in a minimal style inflected by his reading: "Each act of affection a lesson:/ I fail, but with each lesson, learn.// Like studying/ under Te-Shan:// Thirty blows if I can't answer;/ thirty blows if I can." The translations, which open the book, include work from Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu and Wang Wei, as well as Issa, Ryokan and Basho. One of them, a short verse by Saigyo (1118–1190), sums up the book as a whole: "The mind is all sky/ the heart utterly empty,/ and the perfect moon/ is completely transparent/ entering western mountains." (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 03/07/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
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