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The nearest poem anthology

by Sofia M. Starnes

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Ms. Starnes believes that great poetry rests on beauty, emotion, and meaning (p.9), and arranged the collection under these headings. I found the headings to be rather meaningless; I would have preferred to have poems written by the same poet together. When I read a poem which I particularly liked, I would often go to the index to see if any additional poems by that poet were in the anthology. "Nearest" appears to mean "most meaningful;" in the introduction Ms. Starnes states "Once a poem is written, the poet recedes ----powerless to do more ---- and the poem must rely on a reader for its survival" (p. 10). The editor, the current poet laureate of Virginia, selected 112 poems which various people in Virginia had selected as their "nearest" poem and had written essays about why the poem was meaningful to them. The poem is presented followed by the reader's essay. Following the main section of the anthology is a section giving brief biographical information about each poet followed by a section giving the same type of information about the reader.

There is an index at the end. The index definitely was not prepared by a librarian, and leaves something to be desired. The initial articles "a," "an," and "the" are NOT disregarded in filing. Moreover, both the titles of the poems and the names of the poets are in italics which can be confusing; the names of the readers are in regular font. ( )
  sallylou61 | Apr 15, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0989146502, Paperback)

The Nearest Poem Anthology is not a hit parade of poems, nor is it a selection of our most popular poets. Once a poem is written, the poet recedes powerless to do more and the poem must rely on a reader for its survival. It is the reader s response to a poem that guarantees its life.

The anthology is, therefore, a testament to the multiple lives of poetry, its constant reincarnation. A poem may remain dormant for a while decades, even centuries and then someone picks it up, takes it to heart, finds in its words and nuances echoes of a personal experience. And the poem finds a new birth.

Most readers probably have several nearest poems, poems they have approached intimately, tangibly, at different moments of their lives. For the purpose of this anthology, all contributors selected and submitted only one. From the classics to contemporary authors, The Nearest Poem Anthology is a collection of over 100 poems that touched the lives of Virginians, along with an essay they wrote to share their response to the poem, how the poem has been reborn in them.

Some poets are represented through several poems: Dickinson, Frost, Longfellow, Donne. It is interesting to see how great poetry drops barriers, how the same poet speaks personally, even intimately, to very different readers. To take Dickinson, for example, the anthology has five of her poems with five corresponding essays. The readers are a U.S. senator, a college professor, a Methodist minister, a twelve-year-old 7th grader, and a retired teacher. This range is further evidence of the word's power to suggest, rather than define.

(Excerpt from the Introduction by Sofia M. Starnes, Poet Laureate of Virginia, 2012-2014)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:56 -0400)

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