Nobel Prize winner, Tomas Tranströmer, isn’t like some other Nobel Prize winning poets. If you’re looking for the unambiguous revelations of Seamus Heaney, for instance, you’re going to have to dig deep in Tranströmer’s work—which, of course, is the pleasure of it. Subtle and brutally precise are the descriptors that come to mind while reading Bright Scythe. There’s work involved. Nothing is handed to the reader on a silver platter, but that’s the point...and the fun.
Come, Thief is about those events in life that come along and steal away our sense of ourselves, that cause us to reexamine our lives, our joys, our griefs, our goals, our priorities. The “thief” in Jane Hirshfield’s poems can be something as momentous as sickness and death or it could be something as mundane as falling hopelessly in love or a long trip to a foreign city. But even though there’s always a “thief” in Hirshfield’s poems—an event stealing our identities—there’s also an openness to that “theft,” a willingness to reevaluate and change.
Lawrence Ferlingghetti is a gritty sentimentalist, an urban troubadour, an unrepentant romantic and an American treasure. He wrote A Coney Island of the Mind in the 1950s, but his poems still thrill and inspire sixty years later. Reading Ferlingghetti’s poetry is a kind of literary rite of passage, but if you didn’t read him in college, it’s not too late. His poems move me now just as much as they did twenty-five years ago. Arguably unlike some of the other Beat poets, you never “grow out of” Coney Island.