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All of Us: The Collected Poems


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About the Author

Raymond Carver was born in Clatskanie, Oregon, in 1938. His first collection of stories, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please (a National Book Award nominee in 1977), was followed by What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Cathedral (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1984), and Where I'm Calling From in 1988, when he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died August 2, 1988, shortly after completing the poems of A New Path to the Waterfall.


Carver published three major poetry collections during the five years prior to his death in 1988 at age 50. Edited by Univ. of Hartford professor William Stull, and introduced by Carver's widow, the poet Tess Gallagher, this definitive gathering includes those books as published, the posthumous A New Path to the Waterfall, and numerous appendices of previously uncollected poems, notes and sources, and a brief biography. Like the short stories for which he is better known, Carver's poems piercingly observe characters incarcerated by time and circumstance, but whose dreary lives are occasionally ignited by moments of startling clarity. Reading straight through, one is struck by how many of Carver's poems hang on memory, on near forgotten incidents that flash through the poet's mind and produce his peculiarly weighty vignettes. Although Carver concentrated on the poor, bewildered and addicted‘among whom he counted himself‘readers will notice a marked turn toward the hopeful as they progress. Like the painter of "The Painter & the Fish," Carver, toward the end of his life, "was ready to begin/ again, but he didn't know if one/ canvas could hold it all. Never/ mind. He'd carry it over/ onto another canvas if he had to./ It was all or nothing." Carver put it all into his canvases, and All of Us does a fine job of presenting them for maximum impact. (Sept.)

Before his untimely death in 1988 at the age of 50, Carver had acquired an enviable reputation as one of America's finest short-story writers. Now, ten years later, Carver's widow Tess Gallagher and editor William L. Stull have collected nearly all of Carver's poetic work into one volume, complete with bibliographic notes and indexes. Carver's poems, with their gritty grace, express the continual astonishment of a man who had rescued himself from alcoholic near-death and penury to achieve acclaim and something like wisdom. His poetry is a kind of idiosyncratic documentary of his memories, reading, and experience: at times, he wrote too much and reserved too little, which could never have been said of his stories, with their stylized and painful silences. At his best, Carver offers profoundly moving meditations on his life, not unlike D.H. Lawrence's unconventional poems: "Don't worry your head about me, my darling./ We weave the thread given to us./ And Spring is with me." For all poetry collections.‘Graham Christian, Andover-Harvard Theological Lib., Cambridge, MA

"His eye is so clear, it almost breaks your heart." -The Washington Post Book World

"The best poems play like short stories in miniature, small heartrending scenes that resonate with telling detail...the lyrical reflections in his poems are as much a part of his formidable legacy as his incomparable stories." -The Philadelphia Inquirer "Carver's poetry is like an almost invisible strand of fishing line reeling us all together, connecting us by the heart." -San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle

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