Often considered the most impracticable of art forms, poetry has been infused with a new purpose thanks to popular author and radio personality Garrison Keillor. He has long championed the genre on his NPR show The Writer's Almanac, and Keillor now offers a new book, Good Poems for Hard Times, the follow-up to his 2002 anthology Good Poems in support of his belief that poetry is the ideal antidote for the everyday pressures and concerns that plague us all. The meaning of poetry is to give courage, he writes in the volume's introduction. The intensity of poetry, its imaginative fervor, its cadences, is not meant for the triumphant executive, but for people in a jam you and me. Keillor himself picked the 185 pieces collected in the book, and his choices vary in period and category, displaying a wonderful range of voices and forms. Old favorites like Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost and William Shakespeare stand alongside newer writers, including Barbara Hamby and R.S. Gwynn. There are poems on family and work, aging and love and simple day-to-day survival, poems to provide joy, inspiration and optimism, to combat sorrow, loneliness and loss. Poets can make a feast out of trouble, /Raising flowers in a bed of drunkenness, divorce, despair, R. J. Ellmann writes in To A Frustrated Poet, and Keillor's collection supports his statement. Whatever your situation or particular set of cares, Good Poems for Hard Times contains the perfect cure.
Julie Hale keeps her old copies of The New Yorker in Austin, Texas.