cover image Almost an Elegy: New & Later Selected Poems

Almost an Elegy: New & Later Selected Poems

Linda Pastan. Norton, $30 (144p) ISBN 978-1-324-02149-0

Drawing from Pastan’s five most recent collections and including more than 30 new poems, this luminous volume shows a master craftsperson reveling and reflecting on the world’s beauties and pains, finding deep meaning at every turn. A new poem, “Truce,” revisits the subject of her father, “This is for my surgeon father at last/ whom I’ve desecrated in poem after poem/ for punishing me with silence, for caring too much/ about the exact degree of love and respect/ my adolescent self let trickle down to him.” Another new poem, “Instruction,” is one of Pastan’s finest across her oeuvre, displaying her superb control of the couplet form as it poignantly addresses the subject of grief: “You must rock your pain in your arms/ until it’s asleep, then leave it// in a darkened room and tiptoe out.” An earlier poem, “Women on the Shore” (from 2002’s The Last Uncle), wisely advises: “If death is everywhere we look,/ at least let’s marry it to beauty.” Pastan has taken that charge seriously throughout her impressive career, proving herself to be a poet of unusual generosity, humanity, and skill. These are poems worth savoring and revisiting. (Oct.)