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Transgressions | Bloodaxe Books

Jack Gilbert


Selected Poems

Jack Gilbert

Publication Date : 16 Nov 2006

ISBN: 9781852247522

Pages: 65
Size :216 x 138mm
Rights: World

Jack Gilbert (1925-2012) was a major figure in American poetry, but was always a total outsider, defiantly unfashionable and publishing only five collections in five decades. Initially associated with the Beats, he left America after winning the Yale Younger Poets Prize with Views of Jeopardy in 1962, eking out a living for many years on Greek islands. His second collection, Monolithos, appeared twenty years later in 1982, but he made his strongest impression on American readers with two later collections, The Great Fires (1994) and Refusing Heaven (2005), winner of the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award. His final collection The Dance Most of All (2009) was followed by his Collected Poems from Knopf in 2012. Published by Bloodaxe in 2006, Transgressions was his only UK publication, and covers his collections from Views of Jeopardy to Refusing Heaven.

Jack Gilbert wrote compellingly about passion, loss and loneliness. His poems are filled with a sense of wonder at existence and with his surprise at finding happiness – despite grief, struggle and alienation – in a life spent in luminous understanding of his own blessings and shortcomings. His work is both a rebellious assertion of clarity and a profound affirmation of the world in all its aspects. His poems are about being alive: the nature of the self, the life he lived and the people he loved.

'I would nominate Jack Gilbert for his fiercely unflinching, direct poems, full of beauty, wonder, compassion.  Poems of great delicacy and economy, too.  Gilbert's big themes are relationship, loneliness, loss, which could make it all sound quite grim, but it isn't.' - Paula Cunningham, on why she chose Transgressions for The North magazine's feature Top 30 Outstanding Books from the Last 30 Years

'My favourite full-length collection is Transgressions by Jack Gilbert, published in 2006.  The man is amazing! He has (or had) such a hunger for being alive.' - Jennifer Copley, The North, Top 30 Outstanding Books from the Last 30 Years

Jack Gilbert's Lannan Foundation reading (1995)

Jack Gilbert reads and introduces eight poems from his collections Monolithos (1982) and The Great Fires (1994). This is an extract from a longer reading he gave for the Lannan Foundation in Los Angeles on 11 November 1995 when he was also interviewed by Jody AllenRandolph (see below). The poems are all included in Transgressions: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2006) and Collected Poems (Knopf, USA, 2012). The poems are (with page numbers from Transgressions): 'Pewter' (35), 'Finding Something' (65), 'Going Wrong' (57), 'A Description of Happiness in København' (49), 'Searching for Pittsburgh" (68), 'Alone' (79), 'Highlights and Interstices' (94), and 'Tear It Down' [earlier text] (61).


Jack Gilbert's Lannan Foundation interview with Jody AllenRandolph (1995)

Jack Gilbert is interviewed by Jody AllenRandolph after giving a reading for the Lannan Foundation in Los Angeles on 11 November 1995 (see above).







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