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Book Recommendations

Ace Boggess Reviews "Playlist"

's review
Apr 07, 2019
I read this book in one sitting, interrupted only by a brief smoke break, and probably will read it again today. I enjoyed it that much. While Playlist purports to be be "a poem," each segment a meditation on the music of a day, I found it more a collection and, most importantly, a return to form for poet David Lehman, recapturing the magic of the daily poems from his books The Daily Mirror and The Evening Sun. These pieces thrum and muse. They dance. They mourn. The poems (or segments) are kinetic and playful. They carry the reader along at full speed but nonetheless with full stops in between. I've often said that one of the best aspects a poet can have is the ability to show reverence and irreverence for the same subject at the same time. Lehman is a master of this. In "12/21/17" amidst the sadness of nostalgia for deceased friends A.R. Ammons and John Ashbery, Lehman writes:

"and later that day I wrote
a poem for John Ashbery
let's have it, he said.
okay I said here goes
and John said he liked it
particularly the third line
(the poem was two lines long)"

This book is filled with remembrances of these poets, but also the joys of music and old movies. Playlist is such a wonderful book to read. I only wish it were a hundred pages longer.

January 29, 2024

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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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