In keeping with the readings from A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac on the radio, Garrison Keillor brings us an anthology of poems so varied, so straightforward, thought-provoking, and ultimately uplifting, that the collection provokes several re-readings. From Burma Shave to William Blake to Psalm 51, all the poems bolster the spirit. This anthology holds the works of poets living and dead, including Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Kenneth Rexroth, and additional dozens.
Poetry is healing and, in fact, is used in some forms of psychological therapy, both in its reading and its writing. This book could be used in such a way. A poem can shore up the arms of the tired, lift the bruised heart high, transport one to the mountain top, and provide validation in a pointed display of justice and wisdom. The poems in this collection do all of this and more. They shine an understanding light on the lives of common people and how they touched others in their examples of living. They show how people make a better world and how they rail against that which is limiting or evil or simply second best, which is an evil all its own.
The book’s introduction by Keillor is political in part, but that need not keep anyone from enjoying the poems in his selected anthology. Indeed, America truly is in hard times, our two major political parties writhing at the far extremes in such a manner that they form a snake eating its own tail. Forget politics and television, and read a poem or two from this collection. Then send one to a friend that needs its encouragement.