Collected Poems

Marie Ponsot. Knopf, $35 (528p) ISBN 978-1-101-94767-8
Ponsot (Easy) sees her signature mixture of delight and devastation traced beautifully in this comprehensive volume. With a poet who can take many years between publishing books, it’s satisfying to finally see the arc of her long career alongside new poems. Readers can follow her evolution as the self-serious and formal work of her City Lights debut, True Minds, evolves through sparser variations on the sonnet to the ambitious, sprawling work of her second and most famous collection, Admit Impediment, which came out 25 years later in 1981. It is a treat to observe Ponsot’s mischievousness throughout, especially when that trait knocks against the morose, as in “Sois Sage O Ma Douleur,” in which she writes, “I say/ I am too old, tired, crazy, cold—to/ say nothing of ashamed—/ to try.” Ponsot is a master of the delayed revelation, delighting in play and surprise that only becomes more sharply timed as her career progresses. The book concludes with a small collection of her new work, spirited as ever, as when she writes, “Ninety is old, I/ keep telling myself, so behave! And I’m older, 94. It is the look of happy.” Longtime fans and new readers alike will find enchantment, wit, and wisdom in this collection, which cements her reputation as a major American poet. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/15/2016
Release date: 08/02/2016
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 528 pages - 978-1-101-94769-2
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