28 November 2016
99 Poems by Dana Gioia
So much of what we live goes on inside--
The diaries of grief, the tongue-tied aches
Of unacknowledged love are no less real
For having passed unsaid. What we conceal
Is always more than what we dare confide.
Think of the letters that we write our dead.
Dana Gioia has long been celebrated as a poet of profound intelligence and powerful emotion, with lines made from ingenious craftsmanship. 99 Poems: New & Selected for the first time gathers work from across his career, including a dozen remarkable new poems. Gioia has not ordered this selection chronologically. Instead, his great subjects organize this volume into broad themes of mystery, remembrance, imagination, place, stories, songs, and love. The result is a book we might live our lives alongside, and a reminder of the deep and abiding pleasures and reassurances that poetry provides us.
99 Poems is a beautifully wrought and precise poetry collection but it feels very bloodless at times. Some poems are meant to be Poe-like, but I don't get a chill. Some are worded to be melancholy, but I don't feel sad. The best sections are III (Remembrance) and IV (Imagination) where emotion begins to come through. He also has a whip-crack jab at MFA programs in My Confessional Sestina (p86).
Dear FTC: I borrowed a copy from the library.