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A New Selected Poems

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  507 ratings  ·  37 reviews
That Silent Evening

I will go back to that silent evening
when we lay together and talked in silent voices,
while outside slow lumps of soft snow
fell, hushing as they got near the ground,
with a fire in the room, in which centuries
of tree went up in continuous ghost-giving-up,
without a crackle, into morning light.
Not until what hastens went slower did we sleep.
When we got home
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 13th 2001 by Mariner Books (first published 2000)
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Aug 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, read-2015
I hack
a ravine in his thigh, and eat and drink,
and tear him down his whole length
and open him and climb in
and close him up after me, against the wind,
and sleep

from 'The Bear' (Body Rags 1968)

A New Selected Poems is a retrospective collection that encompasses Kinnell's work from 1960-1994. It is rich with moments huge and surreal, such as The Bear, as well as those tender and small, (Oatmeal) and all are connected to a deep sense of place and of mortality.

He used to tell me,
"What good is the
James Murphy
Nov 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
These are the poems of 50 years. They hum with Kinnell's large themes of a lifetime's work: friendship, family, myth, love and sexuality, and that delicate union of the natural world with the one in which we live and are constantly refining. Kinnell is one of the most interesting poets I know writing today. He's lyrical and moving at the same time, at home everywhere. To read a Galway Kinnell poem is to have a warm conversation with someone who delights in speaking to you. It's like being in sel ...more
Sep 20, 2008 marked it as to-read
When I met Mr. Kinnell accidentally and enjoyed lunch with him and several of his fans, he gave me the gift of a poet's compliment by saying, "I enjoyed the vividness of your presence."

Brooke Nadzam
Jul 02, 2009 rated it liked it
I had to read this for a class that I'm taking, and goodness knows that I am not a poetry person. I will admit that I did like many of the poems in the book though. A couple in particular: "Oatmeal", "The Olive Wood Fire", "Prayer", and "After Making Love We Hear Footsteps". But...there were some poems that I simply felt my jaw drop. Yes, perhaps I am a bit squeemish about some things, but sentences like, "He is still inside her. His big tow sticks into the pot of strawberry jam." Really? Is tha ...more
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've been wanting to read a book of Galway Kinnell's poetry for many years, spurred by what I've read of his in anthologies. One of my favorite poems of his is "Saint Francis and the Sow," which is in this volume and can be read online here:

This particular book proved to be half fascinating and half disappointing, those two impressions tied directly to time. In the first 108 pages, I marked 14 poems as of particular interest. This encompassed his work u
Jan 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Kinnell is a crusty, compassionate, welcoming poet. It is intriguing to read a very early poem, “For William Carlos Williams,” where he reports on a reading by Williams: “…the lovers of literature / Paid you the tribute of their almost total / Inattention…” He goes on: “…You seemed / Above remarking we were not your friends.” And, “In an hour / Of talking your honesty built you a tower.” At the recent memorial for his late friend Stanley Kunitz, Kinnell was the last speaker/reader of the night. ...more
Jul 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult, poetry, borrowed
There was only one poem in this collection that I really fell in love with, but that one would have been worth slogging through a book four times as long.


I eat oatmeal for breakfast.
I make it on the hot plate and put skimmed milk on it.
I eat it alone.
I am aware it is not good to eat oatmeal alone.
Its consistency is such that it is better for your mental health
if somebody eats it with you.
That is why I often think up an imaginary companion to have breakfast with.
Possibly it is even wors
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, 2017
Tender, wry collection of poems.
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
There is so much to admire in this collection. "The Bear" is one of my favorites, but there are so many poems worth lingering over. ...more
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great poetry.
Brian Wasserman
Feb 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
a trip through modernist boredom, again someone mistakes being able to write with being able to write poems
Mar 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful poet--favorites of mine from this book are too many to include but here's a few:
St. Francis and the Sow
The Perch
The Room
When One Has Lived a Long time Alone
After Making Love we Hear Footsteps
THe Last Hiding Places of Snow
The Waking
That Silent Evening
The Deconstruction of Emily Dickinson
The Road Between Here and There
The Man in the Chair
My Mother's R and R

Enjoy! Kinnell has such a way with metaphors--nature and human relationships all bound up together in a very d
David Anthony Sam
Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I remember as well as one can after 43 years when Galway Kinnell gave a poetry reading at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. I was stunned, not just by his reading, but more by the poetry. I went immediately to the Centicore Bookstore and bought what they had available at the time, I think Body Rags.

This collection affirms in my mind that he wrote some of the finest verse during the last half of the 20th Century. In "The Bear" he reveals the unity of all being even as he vividly and grimly
Alan Marchant
Jul 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
a life in free verse

I've been savoring this book at the rate of a poem per month since my daughter gave it to me. (Don't ask how many bookmarks are propped up beside my bed.)

Gallway Kinnell's anthology is a tour de force of free verse. Kinnell speaks in an unstilted, vernacular voice that requires no academic dissection. The poems are rife with sensory description and rich with apt and original metaphor. Each poem stands alone as a satisfying emotional experience and as a unique insight into the
Vincent Scarpa
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoy the second half of this collection so much so that my neutrality concerning the first half seems unimportant. He got better with time, is what I'm saying. Favorites include:

"Little Sleep's-Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight" [I'm never not moved by the line 'forever in the pre-trembling of a house that falls.']
"The Last Hiding Place of Snow" [incredibly gorgeous and tender]
"The Road Between Here and There"
"When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone"
"Sheffield Ghazal 4 +5"
Oct 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I would really like to re-read Galway Kinnell with a friend who is more knowledgeable about the Bible, because his work is full of allusions that I don't understand well.

I read a few of these poems after hiking up to Romero Pools in Catalina State Park with friends this fall, and the setting definitely added to my sense of awe.
Claire Olivarez-Day
Oct 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
His earlier works, from _What a Kingdom It Was_ and _Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock_, are so much more powerful and graceful than his latter collections of poetry. Overall, a good sample of Kinnell's work as it includes several poems which display his beautiful language and stunning inquiries. ...more
Danielle DeTiberus
Jul 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I saw him read this past April and fell in love with Galway all over again. The man is 83 and still sharp, still hilarious. He is a dude's dude who's not afraid to write about real emotions and the banal miracles of everyday life. Go figure! ...more
It is hard to say that I have finished a book of poetry. Let's just say I have returned the book to the library. The poems that I read were wonderful. I will check the book out again sometime - maybe even soon. ...more
The collection is a great book displaying the many dimensions of Kinnell. It contains excerpts from The Book of Nightmares, also including poems from the Vermont Poems. The poems in this book are often revisions of previous work, which in terms of craft is very helpful to see.
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Just having "The Avenue Bearing The Initial of Christ Into The New World" in this volume is enough reason to snap it up if you're lucky enough to find it. It's become my favorite volume in my poetry collection and I'm savoring it poem by poem. Kinnell's work is a real treasure. ...more
John Tessitore
Jan 20, 2014 rated it liked it
I keep coming back to "Saint Francis and the Sow," the kind of revelation that gives life to an earthy, muddy poetics. Kinnell can be a little too muddy for my taste, but when he focuses in--on the "long, perfect loveliness of sow,' for example--he astounds. ...more
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Selections from previous published works, called "A New Selected Poems" because there is already a volume called "New Selected Poems." Accessible, easily relatable poetry about love, life, and everyday things. ...more
Apr 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my all-time favorite poets.
Anoop Rathod
Mar 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Amazing. Imperfect Thrist and Mortal Acts, Mortal Words were the two best sections.
Apr 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I really loved two sections of this book: The Book of Nightmares, and Body Rags. I think I'll buy those instead of this collected volume. ...more
May 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
"The Bear" is, and may always be, my most favorite poem in existence. ...more
Apr 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Galway is reading from this new collection on July 8 at my AP English session at St. Johnsbury Academy. We are honored to have him among us.
Robin Yaklin
Jul 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I heard him reading at SMU. That night he changed lines on "here and There"; told us he would do this. The poem was so much better. He said he felt it was. ...more
Jennifer Shreve
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is the poetry book I keep by my bed, and read as often as I can. I still can't make it through "lastness" without tears. ...more
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Kinnell studied at Princeton University, graduating in 1948. He later obtained a Master's degree from the University of Rochester.

As a young man, Kinnell served in the US Navy and traveled extensively in Europe and the Middle East. His first volume of poetry, What a Kingdom It Was, was published in 1960.

Kinnell became very involved in the U.S. civil rights movement upon his return, joining CORE (

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“Whatever happens. Whatever
what is is is what
I want. Only that. But that.”

I can feel she has got out of bed.
That means it is seven a.m.
I have been lying with eyes shut,
thinking, or possibly dreaming,
of how she might look if, at breakfast,
I spoke about the hidden place in her
which, to me, is like a soprano’s tremolo,
and right then, over toast and bramble jelly,
if such things are possible, she came.
I imagine she would show it while trying to conceal it.
I imagine her hair would fall about her face
and she would become apparently downcast,
as she does at a concert when she is moved.
The hypnopompic play passes, and I open my eyes
and there she is, next to the bed,
bending to a low drawer, picking over
various small smooth black, white,
and pink items of underwear. She bends
so low her back runs parallel to the earth,
but there is no sway in it, there is little burden, the day has hardly begun.
The two mounds of muscles for walking, leaping, lovemaking,
lift toward the east—what can I say?
Simile is useless; there is nothing like them on earth.
Her breasts fall full; the nipples
are deep pink in the glare shining up through the iron bars
of the gate under the earth where those who could not love
press, wanting to be born again.
I reach out and take her wrist
and she falls back into bed and at once starts unbuttoning my pajamas.
Later, when I open my eyes, there she is again,
rummaging in the same low drawer.
The clock shows eight. Hmmm.
With huge, silent effort of great,
mounded muscles the earth has been turning.
She takes a piece of silken cloth
from the drawer and stands up. Under the falls
of hair her face has become quiet and downcast,
as if she will be, all day among strangers,
looking down inside herself at our rapture.”
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