Reviewers seem to universally agree that this is powerful stuff. "We owe a debt of gratitude to David Whyte for work which lacks the obscure, murky, digressive qualities often associated with poetry and which are responsible for turning large segments of the reading public away from quality literature. He writes with exquisite simplicity about life's monumental concerns: love, creativity, aloneness, beauty. These are the very things which, by virtue of their universality, should be easily perceptible, but which we have made endlessly complicated," B.A. Brittingham says.
Here's what Beth Gedatus, who suggested this book for the club, has to say about it:
"Perhaps I read some of his work during National Poetry Month. I am not sure. One thing is certain whatever it was I read/heard struck a cord in me. When this happens I become compelled to research the poet/writer. Anyway, shortly after that I found his book, The House of Belonging in a women's clothing store- they probably had 3 different books in the entire store but as Whyte had just come to my attention I viewed the discovery as clandestine and happily paid the clerk.Sound like something that makes you want to read and come discuss with us? Pick up your copy from Micawber's in St. Paul (sale price for members of our club - yet another great reason to support your local bookstores).
"I am drawn to the poetry of the common day, the common life and the commonality of human emotion. For example in the poem THE WINTER OF LISTENING, Whyte speaks of solitude 'No one but me by the fire,/ my hands burning/ red in the palms while/ the night wind carries/ everything away outside.' He goes on to call our attention to, 'All this petty worry.' And that is exactly what it is, 'petty worry' and I imagine each and every one of us can lay claim to spending countless minutes and hours within our days on just that, petty worries. I like to be reminded of this so perhaps in the future I will recognize when I am uselessly burdening myself with petty worries.
"Further on in the poem the exquisite stanza; 'Inside everyone/ is a great shout of joy/ waiting to be born.' Whyte's poetry is accessible which is important to me. At times I find myself adrift in some contemporary poetry, questioning whether I am 'getting it'. As an apprentice to poetry I enjoy work that allows a gentle immersion into the art form; work that rewards with insight and perspectives worth pondering.
"I learn so much from the group discussions and I look forward to hearing how others feel about the book. I rely on others to help me deepen my appreciation for, and understanding of, this magical genre we call poetry."
Hamline GLS Alumni Poetry Book Club meets on the last Thursday of each month from 7:30-9 at Jean Larson's house (Barnes and Noble at Har Mar in case of emergency). Read part, read all. Sit back or engage. Come monthly, come sometimes. Flexible and low key. (Unless someone decides to raise a ruckus.)
Email Jean at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and/or to get on the Book Club's mailing list.