Thom Gunn was an Elizabethan poet in modern guise, though there's nothing archaic, quaint, or sepia-toned about his poetry. His method was dispassionate and rigorous, uniquely well suited for making a poetic record of the tumultuous time in which he lived. Gunn's dozens of brilliantly realized poems about nature, friendship, literature, sexual love, and death are set against the ever-changing backdrop of San Francisco―the druggy, politically charged sixties and the plague years of AIDS in the eighties. Perhaps no contemporary poet was better equipped―by temperament, circumstance, or poetic gift―to ...
A great poet's freshest, most provocative book.
He dreams at the center of a closed system,Like the prison system, or a system of love,Where folktale, recipe, and household customRefer back to the maze that they are of.--from "A System: PCP, or Angel Dust"
Taste and appetite are contraposed in Boss Cupid, the twelfth book of poems by the quintessential San Francisco poet, who is also the quintessential craftsman and quintessentially a love poet, though not of quintessential love.Variations on how we are ruled by our desires, these ...
The Man with Night Sweats is a haunting depiction of a world ravaged by illness that is part elegy for those who have been lost and part evocation of the changes that await those who survive. It is also one of the few works of literature that have fully met both the aesthetic and the moral challenges that the AIDS epidemic poses. The nobility and sobriety of Thom Gunn's forms enhance and underscore the gravity and pathos of his subjects. The results have the cathartic and healing power of great art.
This collection covers the span of Thom Gunn's remarkable poetic career over almost forty years. Gunn has made a speciality of playing style against subject as he deals with the out-of-control through tightly controlled meters and with the systematized through open forms.
Maverick gay poetic icon Thom Gunn (1929–2004) and his body of work have long dared the British and American poetry establishments either to claim or disavow him. To critics in the UK and US alike, Gunn demonstrated that formal poetry could successfully include new speech rhythms and open forms and that experimental styles could still maintain technical and intellectual rigor. Along the way, Gunn’s verse captured the social upheavals of the 1960s, the existential possibilities of the late twentieth century, and the tumult of post-Stonewall gay culture.The first book-length ...
Those who lack a talent for love have come
to walk the long Pier 7. Here at the end
of the imagined world are three low-flying gulls
like lies on the surface; the slow red
of a pilot’s boat; the groan
of a fisherman hacking a small shark—
and our speech like the icy water, a poor
translation that will not carry us across.
What brought us west, anyway? A hunger.
But ours is no Donner Party, we who feed
only on scenery, the safest form
of obfuscation: see how the bay is a gray
deepening into gray, ...