So few poetry anthologies have purposely captured the emotional range that
this one has. The many sides of love, including bitterness, neuroses, discomfort,
yearning: these subjects, so often addressed in country music lyrics, are
seldom adequately covered in love poetry anthologies. Well, this
one has them all.
The book is separated into six parts by subject, progressing much as a short
crush/relationship often progresses. The first section deals with “love
and fear”; the second with “the irresistible desire to be irresisibly
desired”; the third, “this torment is my joy”; the fourth, “when
it is not love anymore”; the fifth, “you’ve left me”; and
the sixth, “I will no longer apologize for loving you.”
If you’re lonely, frustrated, and perha
ps slightly bitter, or can at least
remember or understand similar feelings (or if you’ve just read too many
rose-colored love poem anthologies), you’ll truly appreciate this book.
Its poems are (sometimes breathtakingly) honest, sincere, poignant, and often
clever, with titles such as “Never Give Your Heart to Someone Who Eats
Hearts” (my personal favorite—from Alice Walker) and “I Am No
Good at Love” (Noël Coward).
This collection, like many anthologies, is uneven and includes some bad stuff,
but it also includes excellent works from great poets like Alice Walker, E.
E. Cummings and Pablo Neruda and from others that were new to me. And, ultimately,
it does what it sets out to do: gives you a slightly unorthodox, modern, Woody-Allenish
look at love in all its manifestations as seen through poetry. The raw power
of poetry to display emotion is often at its height in this collection.
One more thing: this book is handy to have around on Valentine’s Day in
case of emergencies. Now’s the time to buy it, before the rush.