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Pity the Beautiful: Poems

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  152 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
The long-awaited fourth collection by one of America's foremost poets


O Lord of indirection and ellipses,
ignore our prayers. Deliver us from distraction.
Slow our heartbeat to a cricket's call.
  --from “Prophecy”

Pity the Beautiful is Dana Gioia's first new poetry book in over a decade. Its emotional revelations and careful construction are hard won, inventive, and resilien
Paperback, 73 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Graywolf Press
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Jul 09, 2015 Rexanne rated it really liked it
I bought this poetry book from a second-hand bookshop a few weeks ago. It's my first Dana Gioia poetry book and in the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit this is the first time I encountered his name.

So... I delved in with no expectations whatsoever. All I can say is that, after reading, I thank my lucky stars I picked up this book randomly and decided to purchase it after a few moments of hesitation.

His poems in this book are a wonderful mix of emotionally-packed texts and wisdom-laden p
Brent Weeks
Jun 16, 2014 Brent Weeks rated it it was amazing
English major, and I have a confession: I hate most poetry written in the last 100 years. I don't hate this. In fact, I think it's awesome. Savor it.
Scott Lee
Dec 02, 2012 Scott Lee rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful collection with some truly extraordinary poems. I have been a fan of Gioia ever since encountering his verse for the first time. I love his dialog with form and forms as he works through rhyme and meter in a way most modern poets refuse to do, except to begin that way and then seek to turn it inside out, destroy it, underline the rhythm, the consistency.

There were many standouts for me in this collection: "Majority" is a beautiful, tragic poem reflecting on the loss of an inf
Angie Kregg
Apr 20, 2012 Angie Kregg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, arc
I received my copy of the book through the FirstReads program.

Even though they say a poet is his own worst critic, that often appears not to be the case. Poetry as a genre is very easy to criticize. The formation, the metaphors, the context of each piece can either resound within a reader, or be rejected by them. Every poem's meaning is changed when another new reader absorbs the words. There is no one right answer.

That being said, the poems within Pity the Beautiful: Poems are certainly worthy
May 28, 2013 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
A TOP SHELF review, originally published in the June 13, 2013 edition of The Monitor

Imperfection as Our Native Speech

Poet Dana Gioia is a former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and noted proponent of the New Formalism that would rescue poetry from the remote hinterlands of ivory-tower academe and put it back in the people’s hands. Last year, Graywolf Press released his first new collection of verse in more than a decade, a slim but powerful volume infused with melancholy and hope
May 26, 2012 Nw23 rated it it was ok
Because it's Dana Gioia, we expect more. First, the cover is badly done. Come on, it's Dana Gioia and it's from Graywolf. The design looks very amateurish to me, as if I was holding a book of a self-published author who just has his work produced with POD. Though the image (the amputated angel) on the cover echoes a poem in the book ("The Angel with the Broken Wing"), the overall stylistics is a fail. Then, the content. Most poems in Pity the Beautiful interrogate the function of God (or religio ...more
Dan Gobble
Aug 14, 2016 Dan Gobble rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books, poetry
A favorite:



There will always be those who reject ceremony,
Who claim that resolution requires no fanfare,
Those who demand the spirit stay fixed
Like a desert saint, fed only on faith,
To worship in no temple but the weather.

There will always be the austere ones
Who mount denial's shaky ladder
To drape the statues or whitewash the frescoed wall,
As if the still star of painted plaster
Praised creation less than the evening's original.

And they are right. Symbols betray us.
They are alwa
David Clark
Jun 15, 2012 David Clark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: summer2012, poetry
I have read more poetry recently--the rich lines of Tomas Transtormer, Christian Wiman, and Scott Cairns have given much thoughtful pleasure. But I find myself most taken by Dan Gioia's recent poetry, "Pity the Beautiful." Perhaps it is because we are nearly the same age, but reading poems like "Reunion" or "The Road" seemed as if the poet had heard the utterances of my heart and had placed them in sensical order. I am not a poetry expert or critic--I read poetry because I love words that connec ...more
Jul 07, 2014 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2014-books
Really enjoyed this collection overall, especially his poem "Autumnal Inauguration," on the power of symbolism and ritual and faith. Some poems left me cold, not because they weren't quality poems, but I just didn't resonate with them, especially some of the "lighter" poems that I think others will enjoy, but overall, the poetry in this book is strong.
Jul 31, 2012 Kayne rated it really liked it
Lovely, classically written poetry, Gioia writes of love, of the death of an infant son, and of past loves. All are portrayed with exquisite language that makes you wish you'd been a past love of his just so that he'd have written a great poem about you.
Apr 07, 2012 Debra rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Poetry Lovers
Recommended to Debra by: Author
Loved these poems! I related to so many of them, and they had such contemporary themes. Some of my favorites were: The Argument, Pity the Beautiful, and Reunion. I cannot wait to read more by this Author! I am very thankful to have won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway!
Aug 02, 2012 Michelle rated it did not like it
Shelves: poetry, 2012
The good poems were the translations. I have had such an unexpected visceral reaction to this collection. I expected so much more. I felt like I was reading work from a beginner's poetry workshop at the local community center.
Aug 09, 2012 Olivia rated it liked it
Gioia has done a lot for the arts in America, and for that I consider him a saint. However, this is the first book of his poetry I've read, and I can't say I'm itching for more. Enjoyed a few.

David Jones
May 07, 2014 David Jones rated it really liked it
Gioia's work is remarkably beautiful. Often the commonplace masks the beauty of his words. But he constantly amazes.
May 08, 2017 Ezgi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, own, reviewed
Beautiful, heartbreaking, dimension expanding... master of language and emotions....
Jul 11, 2012 Joseph rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I have always admired Dana Gioia's fidelity to form. To me, the sometimes confining strictures of form is like an ascetic finding beauty among the rote routines of his/her life. Unfortunately, Gioia's least successful poems are the religious imagery ones where phrases such as "Life has its mysteries, annunciations/and some must where a crown of thorns...(Prophecy)" seem shopworn and uninspired. Other phrases such as "achingly real,"pressing crowds,"the winds of dawn expire," "ghost of a chance, ...more
Jennifer Butchart
Feb 17, 2013 Jennifer Butchart rated it liked it
Gioia tends to overuse repetition in some poems and it really effects the overall flow of the collection.
"The Seven Deadly Sins," was my favorite because it personifies pride, lust, gluttony et al having a mad party of sorts.
The collection is very short and many poems lament loss and past relationships. "Haunted" is a longer narrative poem that really left me wondering why I read an eight page poem. That isn't too long for a poem, but I was waiting to be captivated or drawn to something, but th
Jul 05, 2012 Darrell rated it really liked it
The strongest poem in this collection is "Majority." Poems like "The Angel with Broken Wings," and, "Finding a Box of of Family Letters," are memorable.

I don't want to spoil the collection behind what I think the major "motifs" are, but I'll say that the strongest poems in this collections deals with phantoms of the past because there is, for the majority of the time, a held back tone in the poems -- as though to keep the subject matter together from imploding or exploding.

Yet, "Haunted" -- the
Jess Meier
Apr 25, 2013 Jess Meier rated it it was ok
I appreciate what Gioia is attempting to do: bring poetry to the general population in a deep and easy to understand way.

However, his poems lack the depth that I felt he was aiming for. The tone of his poetry sometimes reminded me of Wallace Stevens, but none of that philosophical depth. As an atheist, I felt annoyed at some of his critiques of pop culture - I felt he was positing his spiritual (Catholic?) beliefs too often.

I'm not sure this is the future of poetry - easy to understand poems t
Jul 06, 2015 Jason rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I purchased this collection because my students so enjoyed the title poem, which appeared as the 371st column in Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry.

This collection holds quite a few delightful poems which were mainly free verse. Some did rhyme, however, which is handy, because I rarely see that in contemporary collections, and my high school students need models of that. I found myself connecting to quite a few of these poems, which seemed to be more serious and somber than not.

Standout poems:
Timothy Bartel
Apr 24, 2013 Timothy Bartel rated it liked it
A solid performance by Gioia, though I would have voted for more narrative poems, as they're what Gioia excels at. The one narrative he does include, the long ghost story "Haunted," is one of his best poems to date.
Danny Daley
Mar 19, 2015 Danny Daley rated it liked it
I read some of Gioia's poetry in a periodical, and I loved it. So I bought this collection, and was a tad let down by its overall consistency of quality - but there were a number of poems I thoroughly enjoyed and plan to revisit in the future.
Jan 04, 2016 Jason rated it liked it
Not all of the poems in this collection are worthy of meditation, or even of reading, so I almost gave it two stars. Nevertheless, there is enough depth of thought and respect of form that I am compelled to give it three.
Sep 14, 2014 Kevin rated it really liked it
"Haunted" is the sort of poem I can imagine becoming a classic of American poetry.
Joanne Gass
Jan 08, 2015 Joanne Gass rated it it was amazing
His most recent collection. As with the other collections, thoughtful, beautiful work.
Apr 17, 2012 Rita rated it really liked it
I received this book as a Goodreads First Read book giveaway. What a wonderful collection of poetry. I especially liked The Heart of the Matter, The Present, and Pity the Beautiful.
Oct 15, 2012 Dallas rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
Not as good as I hoped. A little uneven. But has some poems that standout as exceptional.
Daniel Klawitter
May 18, 2014 Daniel Klawitter rated it liked it
Not quite as polished and tightly crafted as his previous two collections...but Gioia at medium-strength is still worth the read.

Jan 11, 2017 Alexis rated it liked it
Shelves: owned-books
so hard to comprehend
Emily Wood
Mar 21, 2013 Emily Wood rated it liked it
A rare gem of poetry. very personal for Gioia. Deeply moving throughout
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Dana Gioia is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning poet. Former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Gioia is a native Californian of Italian and Mexican descent. He received a B.A. and a M.B.A. from Stanford University and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. (Gioia is pronounced JOY-uh.)

Gioia has published four full-length collections of poetry, as wel
More about Dana Gioia...

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