One of this country’s strongest 20th-century poets, Denise Levertov (1923-1997) grew up in England of Russian-Jewish and Welsh descent. She decided to be a writer when she was five, and at twelve sent poems to T.S. Eliot, who encouraged her; she published her first work when she was seventeen, and her first book six years later. By the end of her life, Levertov had written some twenty volumes of poetry, as well as translations and essays. The Collected Poems of Denise Levertov (New Directions, $49.95), introduced by Irish poet Eavan Boland, starts with uncollected early work from 1940 and contains all the poetry that Levertov published from The Double Image in 1946 to the posthumous The Great Unknowing. It’s a phenomenal achievement. Levertov came to her signature themes early, focusing on social justice, spirituality, and nature throughout her career. While she produced many dynamic and moving personal lyrics, she’s best known for her outspoken anti-war poems of the 1960s and ‘70s, writing that was occasioned by the Vietnam War (“smart bombs replace / dumb bombs. ‘Now we can aim /straight into someone’s kitchen,’” from 1975), but that remains a powerful testament against the brutality and folly of violence.
The Collected Poems of Denise Levertov Cover Image
By Eavan Boland (Introduction by), Denise Levertov, Paul A. Lacey (Editor)
ISBN: 9780811221733
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions - November 29th, 2013

If Wendell Berry were awarded a Nobel, would it be for peace or for literature? Even the economics prize wouldn’t be a stretch for this diversified Kentucky farmer and long-time advocate of sustainable, small-scale enterprises. These several and intimately related concerns shine forth in This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems (Counterpoint, $30). Including and continuing from the 1997 A Timbered Choir, this volume contains the thirty-three years (so far) of Berry’s Sunday meditations, from 1979 to the present. His project is simple: on Sundays, he says, “I go among trees and sit still.” He listens, looks, thinks, and writes. His subjects are what nature and the quiet bring to mind, which could be passing time, work done or to be done, love, loss, or human folly. Berry has a deep and flexible sense of the spiritual, which for him embraces both this world and the next, the known and the unknown; it does not include religious orthodoxy and he doesn’t preach or proselytize. If many of these pieces, like psalms, seem equal parts prayer and hymn, they are also impeccably crafted poems, grounded in meter, rhyme, and repetition; they are themselves part of the “inventory / of wonders and of uncommon goods” they celebrate and delight in.

This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9781619021983
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Counterpoint LLC - October 15th, 2013

This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New 1979-20013 Cover Image
ISBN: 9781619024366
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Counterpoint LLC - September 9th, 2014

A friend once told me that cats don’t have owners, they have staff. Some of the more literary and artistic feline-staffers present their work in The Big New Yorker Book of Cats (Random House, $40), a collection of more than a hundred pieces drawn from throughout the magazine’s history. Susan Sheehan’s “Bookstore Cat” touches on a small thing P&P lacks: a furry mascot. Cat-tastic fictions by Roald Dahl and T.C. Boyle make an appearance, but the best story is J.F. Powers’s “Death of a Favorite,” about a Faustian cat with more than nine lives. Burkhard Bilger’s “The Last Meow” is a touching profile on the lengths humans will go to for their pets, and includes an addendum that made me cry (as my cats looked on with cool disdain). Peppered with cat-inspired poetry, including selections by Pulitzer Prize-winners Paul Muldoon and Franz Wright and former Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, and classic cat cartoons and cover illustrations, this gift is ideal for reading (you) and reclining upon (your cats).
The Big New Yorker Book of Cats Cover Image
By The New Yorker Magazine, Anthony Lane (Foreword by), Haruki Murakami (Contributions by), Calvin Trillin (Contributions by), M.F.K. Fisher (Contributions by)
ISBN: 9780679644774
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House - October 1st, 2013