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Good Poems for Hard Times (Good Poems)

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  2,013 ratings  ·  157 reviews
Chosen by Garison Keillor for his readings on public radio's The Writer's Almanac, the 185 poems in this follow-up to his acclaimed anthology Good Poems are perfect for our troubled times. Here, readers will find solace in works that are bracing and courageous, organized into such resonant headings as "Such As It Is More or Less" and "Let It Spill." From William Shakespear ...more
Paperback, 344 pages
Published August 29th 2006 by Penguin Books (first published 2005)
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A World of Possibility by Christopher  ShieldsA World of Romance by Christopher  ShieldsStories and Scripts by Zack LoveThe Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol 1 by M.H. AbramsThe Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume 2 by M.H. Abrams
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15th out of 251 books — 136 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jennifer
What a collection! So many good ones that I quake with amazement...it's all too much to take in at one sitting. Savor it then, take it piece by piece and go back to it to see it in the light of another understanding.
Why don't they use this in high school for poetry appreciation instead of the dusty Victorian material of the standard curriculum? Or maybe it hits me right because I'm NOT a high school student but am the age I am!
shruti
I will admit that half the reason this book is a favorite is because I received it from Keillor himself, autographed and all, right after a Prairie Home Companion show. I had waited in line for tickets, as my parents birthday present, got to sit on stage and was talking to one of the musicians afterwards who was so excited that someone under the age of 40 was a big enough fan to stand in line that she grabbed me, dragged me across the stage and introduced me to Keillor, who shook hands and grabb ...more
Cheryl
I'm just in the introduction, but I gotta say I just realized something. Much like Ray Bradbury Keillor takes a sentence and stretches it with extra clauses as if just avoiding periods or even commas will make the reader think that the author must be ever so clever and the writing style ever so poetic and powerful because after all if the reader stopped to take a breath he might realize that some of these long sentences are pretentious crap.

But most of the writing, by both authors, is well worth
...more
Jessica
Apr 11, 2007 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who does not truly hate the midwest (Poetry Geeks)
Shelves: poetry
I read all of these poems out of order and it was amazing. Right now I'm stuck on the love poetry "Darling I never knew such loving", "Wedding poem for Shel and Phil", "The discovery of sex", and "There comes the strangest moment". But there are other hilarious poems as well. Garrison Keillor's intro is fascinating for those of us who have grown up with "A Prairie Home Companion" but never really known about the man behind the stories.

On one level this is a collection of wonderful poems. Each is
...more
Erin
I've decided anthologies are the way to go for now while I'm still exploring poetry and it still feels more like homework than desire. No guilt if I don't enjoy a poet, just move on to the next one. No pages and pages of universally acknowledged brilliance that I just don't get (looking at you, e.e. cummings), just turn the page to something new if it's not working for me.

On the flip side, it's got a bit of that one night stand feeling you get from short stories. Just when I'm intrigued and want
...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
I am not, nor have I ever been, exceptionally qualified to write a review of a collection of poetry. Back in the day, I could probably have muddled out something about rhyme and meter, but high school English is a long way behind me, and I've forgotten anything I ever knew.

But I do like poetry that's pretty straightforward and that says something to me. I have a collection of these that I've probably kept since middle school. Unfortunately, for the number of poems included in the collection, the
...more
Marian Deegan
This is a richly varied collection of poems beautifully introduced by that unflappably unhip Minnesota man of letters, Garrison Keillor. The Good Poems were an insistently “non-gift” this holiday season from my friend Stevie Beck, who’d spoken of Keillor’s touching introduction months earlier during one of our “Turtle Coffee” mornings.

In these days when identities and laptops and high-tech gizmos are the preferred swag of the modern thief, there is something reassuringly story-worthy about Keill
...more
David
I am not a person who is big on poetry.
I was actually pretty proud of this fact as an English major, and I did whatever I could to avoid having to take classes dedicated to the literary form.

It's no surprise. In school, they give you a bunch of Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky until you reach high school. In high school, they give you a bunch of the classics, written in stitled language that you have to translate before you can dig into the poems themselves.

When I became an English teacher, I
...more
Bruce
Keillor suggests that these are the kinds of poems that you would send to a friend who was having a tough time. I'm not sure I read them that way. So many are so very, very dark. I was delighted by a few, Cecilia Wolochs Slow Children at Play, and Rita Doves Dawn Revisited. I thought that Donald Halls poem about his wifes death was just haunting and so painful I could barely read it. There is magic in here, but you have to push through a lot of darkness to find it.
Rebecca
This is hands down my favorite book of poems ever and I loooooove poetry. There's something about the healing power of poetry that makes you pause. Poetry makes me feel...alive. Supported. Amazed at the god of small things. This book perfectly encapsulates all the best things about poetry- and Garrison Keillor writes an AMAZING foreword that I would recommend ANYONE read when trying to understand why poetry is a vital part of our literary existence.
Terry
Like in his original “Good Poems,” Keillor has exquisite taste when it comes to poetry. Some are thought provoking, some are sad, but overall, they’re just good fun! A good book to have by the bed or other local where you can read one or two a day. Great for those just discovering poetry, and those of us who have been reading poems for a lifetime.
Eric Shaffer
Okay, a lot of poetry snobs and snots say some snarky stuff about Keillor's anthologies, but I am here to tell you that this is one title that accurately describes the contents of the book: Good Poems. I like the subtitle, but I don't really see that these poems are better for hard times than those in the first volume: both are tres good. I would probably have titled this volume, and I think of it as, More Good Poems. Let me tell you how I know this. I read a lot of poems; I read poems everyday; ...more
Christine
Loved the first collection, Good Poems. Garrison Keillor has such good taste in his selection of poems from his show/blog. I read a poem a day, food for thought and usually for tranquillity at the end of the day.
Took me a while to finish - one poem at a time, but as usual, I knew they would be good slow food for thought poems.
Rebekah
A wonderful, well-crafted,diverse collection from which I will continue sipping indefinitely. Keillor's introduction essay is a compelling defense of poetry, and could stand alone. Both this collection and its introduction would make great teaching tools.
Alex  Skousen
Keillor has excellent taste, minus maybe two poems I loved them all! A kindness to snails was my personal favorite. Very good contemporary poetry that proves it isn't all thees and thous for the art. Also enjoyed the introduction a great deal.
Jake
I stole this book from some guy who was hitting on Nate's girlfriend at Leopold's. He got up and went to the bathroom and I stuffed it under my coat and walked out. Yeah, I'm cold like that.
Rad
This is a good collection of poetry, with a worthwhile introduction in Keillor's typical sensitive, pragmatic, and humorous midwestern fatherly way.

Years ago, while studying critical theory in grad school, I read Dana Gioia's Can Poetry Matter?. Keillor answers this question 20 years later: "...what really matters about poetry and what distinguishes poets from, say, fashion models or ad salesmen is the miracle of incantation in rendering the gravity and grace and beauty of the ordinary world and
...more
Bud Smith
Well put together. Containing some startlingly good poems from poets I've never read (and will seek out more work from now) and even some poets I've avoiding reading because they're old and stale. I enjoyed that many of the poems in this anthology were highly narrative and read like snippets of "life" rather than just an assortment of weird wordplay and over my head acrobatics. Keilor's essay that opens the collection is phenomenal. Many a poem in this was dog-earred to return to later. Have ord ...more
Cara
Any poetry collection that includes Mary Oliver, Lord Alfred Tennyson, and Burma Shave rhymes all together has gotta be good.
Shira
Aug 14, 2011 Shira marked it as to-read
I'm a poetry idiot. This was the least bile-inducing anthology I found. Wish me luck!
Erin
I like how it's dedicated to English teachers.
Pete
I love the Burma Shave "poems"...
Richard Thompson
Having read Garrison Keillor's selection of poems in his first GOOD POEMS book, we were expecting that in a book of "poems for hard times" that a lot of the poems — most — would be uplifting, inspiring, funny, and heartwarming, but this collection is more lyrical look at what makes the times hard than a salve to the battered soul. One gets the impression from the introduction that Keillor sees the early 21st Century in America as a hard place to be alive.

We still enjoyed the book. Just not quite
...more
Picture  Perfect
I really loved this collection of poems. I loved the introduction too...a lot.

Here are some of my favorite poems from the collection:

Or Death and December by George Garrett on pg. 8
A Poem for Emily by Miller Williams on pg. 11
For a Five-Year Old by Fleur Adcock on pg 12
The Goose by Muriel Spark on pg. 14
A Dialogue of Watching by Kenneth Rexroth on pg 21
The State of the Economy by Louis Jenkins on pg. 27
The Summer Camp Bus Pulls Away From the Curb by Sharon Olds on pg. 37
To David, About His Educ
...more
Phil Call
I acquired this book early on in my time at Ball State, read it voraciously, and have returned to it regularly ever since. I love how poems are little snippets of thought, comfort, and other things that one can devour quickly and then leave to roam in your head for a while.

The poems in this book are not written by the author, Garrison Keillor. Rather, Keillor is the editor and selected the poems for the book from excellent ones he's read for his regular radio program, The Writer's Almanac, wher
...more
Kelly
I was a bit surprised to find that I had read very few of the poems in this anthology. I was excited about that at first, because it's always fun to discover new poetry. Also, it leans very heavily toward modern/contemporary poetry. This was good in that I've read very little of that before, so I discovered some poems and poets I like. There were also a fair number of poems I didn't like, though, or to which I was indifferent.

Also, I didn't think most of the poems in the anthology lived up to it
...more
Peter Derk
Hey, what are you going to do?

It’s an anthology. The problem with every anthology is that it’s not going to please everybody all the time, which means it kind of ultimately pleases nobody, right?

Garrison Keillor, for all his lake business, does a decent job of selecting poetry. Really. This book and its precursor, Good Poems, are both filled with some really excellent material. The biggest downfall, for me personally, is the inclusion of super-traditional stuff, Bible verses, for example. And I'
...more
Petie
Alright, I finished...after just randomly opening it up and reading a poem or two here & there...I then sat down and went through for missing ones and to reread faves (Happiness, A Dialogue of Watching, The Happiest Day, Toast, Wedding Poem For Schele and Phil, To a Frustrated Poet, Ordinary Life, (2nd) Happiness, The Benefits of Ignorance...OK enough of naming just about every other poem and only being halfway through.

BUY/BEG/BORROW/STEAL this book. Oh, and I think the title should just be:
...more
Linda LaRoche
Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems for Hard Times opens with an amazing introduction but then drifts into cynicism. Still it depicts what is already taking place. "You lie in a hotel bed at night, remote in hand and surf a hundred channels of television. . . and you can drift for hours among the flotsam and you will never see anything that shows that you're in Knoxville or Seattle or Santa Fe or Chicago and nobody will ever speak to you as straightforwardly and clearly as poetry does."
He opines that
...more
Chris
There were a few really great poems in here, but a lot of it was pretty insipid. Most of the poems didn't even seem to have a point at all. Bland. This edition is called Good Poems for Hard Times, but the title apparently had nothing to do with the poems. There was no unifying theme to them. Even the chapter headings weren't consistent with their content. It was truly a hodgepodge of mediocre poetry. Pathetic.

This book is a follow-up to another book that apparently was a huge success: Good Poems
...more
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2014
Garrison Keillor (born Gary Edward Keillor on August 7, 1942 in Anoka, Minnesota) is an American author, storyteller, humorist, columnist, musician, satirist, and radio personality. He is known as host of the Minnesota Public Radio show "A Prairie Home Companion".

Keillor was born in Anoka, Minnesota, the son of Grace Ruth (née Denham) and John Philip Keillor, who was a carpenter and postal worker.
...more
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