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Left-Handed: Poems

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  53 ratings  ·  15 reviews
An emotionally riveting collection that tells a powerful story of passion, loss, and transformation.

Left-handed unfolds in the manner of an intense, searching novella. At its center is a one-way dialogue with an elusive character who beguiles and torments but also inspires the unnamed narrator, who at midlife is telling the tale.

These poems—decisive, wrenching, exquisite—s
hardcover, 128 pages
Published March 20th 2012 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published January 1st 2012)
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
These poems were difficult to read. I was much more interested in the background story that I read about that apparently prompted this book of poetry - love unrequited then requited, or was it the other way around?

Many of the poem occupy an inch or two horizontally, which is a difficult amount of space to say anything in. The only thing I liked and connected with was the Envoi at the front of the volume.

I don't mean to be harsh. This might be poetry for someone else, it just wasn't for me.
Adam Dunn
There's a lot going on with this book. The author wrote for and about a time when he left his wife and kids for another man, literary agent Bill Clegg. It's not like you can fully understand that from the text though. It seems the author hides a lot behind poetic license and double talk to mar the situation and hide his feelings.

Certain elements ring true, the infatuation phase of love is clearly conveyed. His wonder of Clegg is apparent but you can see the path he's on from the beginning. He ov
Some amazing lines, and one or two poems really blew me away, but Galassi's refusal to part from the super-short line bogs him down more than it lifts him up. Also, he lets formal structures -- rhyme requirements, for instance -- influence his diction too noticeably, which makes for an awkward word choice here and there. Ultimately a decent book -- those or two poems are worth the read alone.
Diann Blakely
“Men at forty,” as Donald Justice wrote, learn to turn their backs, or close doors—“softly”— on youth and long-passed opportunities as part of their accommodation to a life of mortgages, the body’s increasing betrayals, and other failures of middle age. Perhaps the most painful of these stem from love and marriage, as well as the domestic life that sometimes confines men as inescapably as it does women, though the emotional content of poems that are mirror-images of Justice’s abound too—just pic ...more
Jeffrey Cyphers Wright
A dash of Verlaine steals through these tender, hopeful and indestructible verses. Jonathan Galassi shows a full hand, touching on all the high notes of romance, longing, seduction and keen observation.
The most hard-hitting poems reside in a rarified atmosphere of economy and splendor. “The Scarf” mopes about a lover’s disaffection. “When or if you wear / your Loro Piana scarf / the one I gave you…,” is intimate, capturing silken angst with concision.
Galassi underpins his poems with radiant thr
Amy Paget
A powerfully lyrical book of 50 poems tracing the course of a love affair. Images alive to nature, the city, and relationships. Masterful.
Memoir written in verse by a man who happens to be the Publisher of one of the major houses (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). It is about his obsession with literary agent Bill Clegg, whose memoir I read recently thus I felt compelled to read this. The poems are lovely and the (then-married) man’s anguish is clear. Alas, I could not help but find it all a little pathetic. Maybe it was the age difference? The knowledge Clegg probably didn’t give two shits about him? Clegg is a real a-hole. The writing ...more
Best modern poetry book I've read so far.
I could do without these.
Fred Misurella
A nice collection of poems by the translator of two great Italian poets: Montale and Leopardi. But Galassi has his own quiet voice, and it comes through with impressive strength, wit, and humanity in this collection as he details his life and loves in New York, Rome, and elsewhere, especially while, as we like to say now, "changing his orientation" as a lover.
Thick with emotion, both staidly coherent and chaotically fluid. The author has described it as a change-of-life collection, meant to be read from beginning to end, unusual for a book of poems. The poems range of raw and organic to almost quaintly antique in their structure.
Holly Woodward
The poems are intense, intelligent, and finely honed, like lines inscribed on knives the author holds to his own throat.
Has anyone noticed that, like Shakespeare's poems, they are addressed variously to a man and to a woman?
Read my review on New York Journal of Books:
Simple, gorgeous mid-life angst and revelation.
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Jonathan Galassi born 1949 in Seattle, Washington, is the President and Publisher of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, one of the eight major publishers in New York. He began his publishing career at Houghton Mifflin in Boston, moved to Random House in New York, and finally, to Farrar, Straus & Giroux. He joined FSG as executive editor in 1985, after being fired from Random House. Two years later, he ...more
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