Review: The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing

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I received The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing through LibraryThing‘s Early Reviewers program, and I’m so so grateful that I did. Thank you to LT and to the publisher, Bloomsbury, for the opportunity to read and review this book.

As I read the book, I marked the Table of Contents to indicate poems I particularly liked, or which echoed and articulated my own experiences of grief. Initially, I thought I might quote from a few of them in my review. But now I find I cannot choose, as I’ve marked about 80 poems. I also noted a handful of what I considered “classic” poems on grief, many of which have been widely anthologized already but surely belong here as well, including “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas, “Funeral Blues” by W. H. Auden, “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost, “After great pain, a formal feeling comes –” by Emily Dickinson, and “Elegy for Jane” by Theodore Roethke.

I was very impressed with the strength of the whole collection. Although I didn’t love every poem (and with an anthology, it’s likely no one does except the editor), my reactions are a reflection of my own tastes, not upon the quality of the poems. There really is “something for everyone,” or at least for everyone familiar with grief, in this amazing collection. The editor, Kevin Young, is to be commended for bringing a great variety of voices and styles together to form a cohesive volume.

Having lost both of my own parents, my father-in-law, and both of my grandfathers — and three of these five losses within the past two years — The Art of Losing isn’t merely a book I won through LibraryThing; it truly feels like a gift, one I will cherish for many years, and share with others who might find comfort within its pages.

© All the parts of my life 2008-2015.

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