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Goodreads Choice Award
Winner for Best Poetry (2020)
A new book of poetry from internationally acclaimed, award-winning and bestselling author Margaret Atwood

In Dearly, Margaret Atwood’s first collection of poetry in over a decade, Atwood addresses themes such as love, loss, the passage of time, the nature of nature and - zombies. Her new poetry is introspective and personal in tone, but wide-ranging in topic. In poem after poem, she casts her unique imagination and unyielding, observant eye over the landscape of a life carefully and intuitively lived.

While many are familiar with Margaret Atwood’s fiction—including her groundbreaking and bestselling novels The Handmaid’s TaleThe TestamentsOryx and Crake, among others—she has, from the beginning of her career, been one of our most significant contemporary poets. And she is one of the very few writers equally accomplished in fiction and poetry.  This collection is a stunning achievement that will be appreciated by fans of her novels and poetry readers alike.

124 pages, Hardcover

First published November 10, 2020

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About the author

Margaret Atwood

373 books79.2k followers
Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1970), The Handmaid's Tale (1983), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood's dystopic novel, Oryx and Crake, was published in 2003. The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short stories) both appeared in 2006. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth ­ in the Massey series, appeared in 2008, and her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood, in the autumn of 2009. Ms. Atwood's work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian. In 2004 she co-invented the Long Pen TM.

Margaret Atwood currently lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.

Associations: Margaret Atwood was President of the Writers' Union of Canada from May 1981 to May 1982, and was President of International P.E.N., Canadian Centre (English Speaking) from 1984-1986. She and Graeme Gibson are the Joint Honourary Presidents of the Rare Bird Society within BirdLife International. Ms. Atwood is also a current Vice-President of PEN International.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,056 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
November 12, 2020
You could get waylaid here, or slip amazed
into your tangled head. You could
just not come back.

Most good poetry, in my opinion, is a little bit open to interpretation, but one thing is quite clear with this one: the 80-year-old Atwood had death on her mind when she put together this collection.

If that sounds morbid and depressing-- it is. While I enjoyed this book of poems very much, I felt disquieted reading them. I did not cry, but I felt almost constantly like I might. Most, if not all of them, have an air of sadness and loss. Atwood moves from the traditional human kind of death and grief, to zombies, to digging up dead Scythian women, to a dying planet, to words that are dying out of use. Like 'Dearly'.

Seemingly unrelated topics weave their way toward death, loss, and the sadness which comes with the passing of time. For example, a poem about a coconut becomes a meditation on the nature of Heaven, which is nowhere near as silly as it sounds. Atwood is nothing if not a master wordsmith, after all.

Atwood herself receives comparison to a "cold grey moon", while memories are described as "mirages", followed by:
Though over your shoulder there it is,
your time laid out like a picnic
in the sun, still glowing,
although it’s night.

Warmth is in short supply here. Even such as love, when it does receive a mention, is described as a “demented rose-red circus tent whose half-light forgives all visuals”. I guess it's been a long year for Margaret Atwood, too. A long four years, maybe.

I'm not sure exactly when all these poems were written, though I know some have been previously published in various periodicals and anthologies. This particular collection, though, is a gathering of Atwood's words on loss and dying, on what we are leaving behind.
The world that we think we see
is only our best guess.

Words like these can be expected throughout: late, gone, withering, remember me, vacancy, emptiness, candle guttering down, corpse, fading, dusk, rotting, end, obsolete, melting away, lifeless, dissolving, festering, erase, Devil, Heaven.

I liked it in that special way reserved for books that make me really miserable.
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
965 reviews6,842 followers
April 5, 2021
Happy National Poetry Month! I'm going to boost a few poetry favorites all month so we can all celebrate!

The world’s burning up. It always did.

The late poems are the ones / I turn to first now, wrote poet W.S. Merwin, ‘it is the late poems / that are made of words / that have come the whole way.’ Margaret Atwood’s 2020 collection of poetry, Dearly, is a really beautiful collection that is keenly aware of itself as her ‘late poems’. The opening poem, in fact, is titled ‘Late Poems’, which appears in this collection that has been released just following the writer’s 81st birthday. Dearly in good company, with recent poetry collection releases from Mary Ruefle, Charles Simic and Jane Hirshfield that address end of life and accepting the inevitability of death (Hirshfield being the Queen of poetry of ephemerality turning her sights towards her own finality is especially existentially harrowing). As someone that personally prefers her poems to her novels (read The Moment for example), this collection was a balm on my soul during a year where such a thing was yearned for. Despite the constant reminder of death lurking within the collection, the playfulness and earnest acceptance of the way life and death go hand-in-hand make this a cozy companion that will touch your heart as much as your intellect. Simply put: Margaret Atwood destroys me and I am here for it.

'The hand on your shoulder. The almost-hand: Poetry, coming to claim you.'

Death casts a long shadow over this collection, though Atwood does not fear it and instead sets the table to welcome it in and converse with Death. ‘If there were no emptiness, she begins a poem titled the same, ‘there would be no life.’ Showing life and death as forever intertwined and part of the same emotion weaves its way through much of the collection, such as the amusing and lively poem The Aliens Arrive--yes, she graces us with several poems bearing sci-fi-esque themes--which concludes:
The Aliens arrive
We like the part where we get saved.
We like the part where we get destroyed.
Why do those feel so similar?
Either way, it’s an end.
No more just being alive.
No more pretend.

She reminds us to live in the moment and not simply go about ‘just being alive’ but to enjoy life, whether it is carving pumpkins, having sex or simply remembering to go see the September mushrooms sprout. With death on the horizon its a reminder to take stock of what we have, but also remember we are merely guests in this world. ‘Everything was real, / but didn’t always love you she writes in Improvisation on a First Line by Yeats, ‘you needed to take care.’.

'You could get waylaid here, or slip amazed
into your tangled head. You could
just not come back.

We must enjoy what we have while we have it, because soon much will be gone. ‘Who was my sister / Is now an empty chair,’ she says reminding us of our temporality, and tha t she misses ‘the missing, those who left early.’ She does not shirk from acknowledging our future absence, which is most gloriously addressed in Invisible Man where she pictures our future absence akin to the way cartoonists drew invisible characters with a dotted outline only the reader could see. ‘That’s who is waiting for me:,’ she writes, ‘an invisible man / defined by a dotted line’. There is hope though, that the ways in which we are remembered leave our residue on this mortal earth, which is made more impactful by the way she specifically addresses you, the reader, as the one who will have departed life:
It’s you in the future,
we both know that.
You’ll be here but not here,
a muscle memory, like hanging a hat
on a hook that’s not there any longer.

This is a really moving and tender collection, one that seduces you with its wry charms in order to curl up within your heart and unpack its messages of life and mortality. By the time her words have their talons in you, they have become so ensconced within you for them to hurt but instead cradle your soul towards our inevitable demise like a grandparent singing lullabies as the world ends. There is an old saying about how the closer we are to death the more we feel alive, and Atwood has us bravely stand on that division line and drink it all in.

'Little dollface robot
what will you make of yourself
in this world we are making?
What will you make of us?

There is a warning, though, as she still reminds us of the darkness that cowers in the hearts of men and threatens us all. 'There is some danger in this,' she reminds us of our living.
Do we have goodwill?
To all mankind?
Not any more.
Did we ever?
There is a sharp feminism that runs through many of the poems as well, which is quite wonderful yet also reminds us of the horrors in society. ‘So many sisters killed / over the years, thousands of year,’ she reminds us in Lost, ‘Killed by fearful men / Who wanted to be taller.’ Atwood is a master of dystopian storytelling and while reminding us to embrace life also apprises us of its sinister side:
What did they hear in our human world
of so-called light and air?
What word did they send back down
before they withered?
Was it

For fans of Atwood’s fiction, they will find similar themes done up in poetic packaging that sinks as deep and effectively as the best of her novels. Those familiar with her poetry will welcome this new chapter of verse and continue to be dazzled by her heart and words. This is a very dear collection--as the title implies, which comes from a poem about how dear the word ‘dearly’ is to her despite its waning of modern usage--that, despite being collected over several years of writing, seems to have been published at an optimal time when it is most needed. She reminds us of our magic--'our dark light magic'--as much as she reminds us of our faults and evils. It is a fierce yet endearing collection all at once with a playful array of topics from fairy tales, Frida Kahlo, aliens, cats with dementia and more. Honestly, I am always down for sci-fi poetry, and Atwood delivers. More of this please. Atwood looks the end of life in the eye and does not flinch, but instead arms us all to roar with dignity and honor.


I held your hand an maybe
you held mine
as the stone or universe close in
Around you.

Late Poems
These are the late poems.
Most poems are late
of course: too late,
like a letter sent by a sailor
that arrives after he’s drowned.

Too late to be of help, such letters,
and late poems are similar.
They arrive as if through water.

Whatever it was has happened:
the battle, the sunny day, the moonlit
slipping into lust, the farewell kiss. The poem
washes ashore like flotsam.

Or late, as in late for supper:
all the words cold or eaten.
Scoundrels, plight, and vanquished,
or linger, bide, awhile,
forsaken, wept, forlorn.
Love and joy, even: thrice-gnawed songs.
Rusted spells. Worn choruses.

It’s late, it’s very late;
Too late for dancing.
Still, sing what you can.
Turn up the light: sing on,
sing: On.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
February 23, 2021

Just posted my Goodreads Choice 2020 Reaction Video on Booktube! Click the link to check it out!!
The Written Review

This was among the two poetry books I read this year and I did like it more than the other.


I'm not a good poetry reader. I just don't get it and poetry always feels like more effort than what it's worth.

That being said...there were a few poems I enjoyed. Like the supernatural ones.

But overall...it was an okay book for me.

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Henk.
875 reviews
January 4, 2021
Poems on climate change, aging, memory, loss of loved ones, being a women in the world, the arctic and quite a lot of birds. And typical Atwood wit
Don’t think this is morbid.
It’s just reality.

In the introduction Margaret Atwood mentions her method of writing poems, keeping scribbles of paper in drawers and revisiting them later.
She tells of her early poems in her typical witty manner:
These poems had many subjects: peonies, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, winter, severed heads. The usual.

This bundle is the amalgamation of around ten years of such drawer scribbles and we get to see an aging, if not less engaging and funny Atwood, who still keeps a keen eye on contemporary developments in respect to the climate and feminism.

The bundle is divided in 5 sections which are loosely thematically ordered:

Subtitle: Dementia, aging, memories

Late Poems
These are the late poems.
Most poems are late
of course: too late,
like a letter sent by a sailor
that arrives after he’s drowned.

Mirages, you decide:
everything was never.
Though over your shoulder there it is,
your time laid out like a picnic
in the sun, still glowing,
although it’s night.

Sequenced, these pics are like a chart

of moon phases fading into blackout; or
like a mermaid doomed to appear onshore
every five years, and each time altered

to something a little more dead:
skin withering in the parching air,
marooned hair thinning as it dries,
cursed if she smiles or cries.

Subtitle: The female body and its many stories, Frida Kahlo, Cassandra, sex (and blood), betrayal and myths

Princess Clothing
Too many people talk about what she should wear
so she will be fashionable, or at least
so she will not be killed.

Subtitle: Nature and climate change, but also the nature of language and 9 variants of an alien invasion

Carving the jacks
After we’re gone
the work of our knives will survive us.

The world is burning up. It always did.
All, all are coming true
because we opened the lead seals,
ignored the warning runes,
and let the stories out.
We had to know.

We had to know
how such tales really end:
and why.
They end in flames
because that’s what we want:
we want them to.

Subtitle: Climate change, arctic wolfs, plastic, lichen and birds

Walking in the madman’s wood
The world that we think we see
is only our best guess.

Every life is a failure

at the last hour,
the hour of dried blood.

Oh children
We know there will be waves.
Not much life needed for those.
A breeze, a storm, a cyclone.
Ripples, as well. Stones.
Stones are consoling.

There will be sunsets, as long as there is dust.
There will be dust.
Oh children, will you grow up?

The twilight of the gods
When the gods frown, the weather’s bad.
When they smile the sun shines.
We smile all the time now,
smiles of the lobotomized,
and the world fries.

Subtitle: Aging, loss of loved ones, memory and mortality.

My personal favourite section.

The body, once your accomplice,
is now your trap.

Blackberries as last poem is also quite touching, but I feel ending with the title poem Dearly is most fitting, and this is the one poem I wrote most down of:

How was it used?
Dearly beloved.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here
in this forgotten photo album
I came across recently.

Dearly beloved, gathered here together
in this closed drawer,
fading now, I miss you.
I miss the missing, those who left earlier.
I miss even those who are still here.
I miss you all dearly.
Dearly do I sorrow for you.

Sorrow: that’s another word
you don’t hear much anymore.
I sorrow dearly.
Profile Image for Glenn Sumi.
404 reviews1,588 followers
December 4, 2020
This is Margaret Atwood's first poetry collection in over a decade, and there's something soothing about reading her beautifully precise words during a pandemic, when we all seem stuck in a perpetual, uncertain present.

Atwood's fiction has always been infused with poetry – she clearly loves words and wordplay. But it's relaxing not to be tied to a plot and narrative. Here, she can take on a subject – examining a lifetime of accumulated passports, for instance, or viewing mushrooms in September – and produce startling images captured in a few seconds that last forever.

She weaves in some of her familiar concerns: sex and gender, the precarious state of the earth and its species. Some of the most powerful poems deal with birds, animals and other wildlife. (My edition features a gorgeous illustration of birds on the cover.)

But the most deeply felt poems confront mortality and death. Perhaps it's because her partner, Graeme Gibson, died in 2019 (the collection is dedicated: "For Graeme, in absentia"). Many poems look back at life, like Lot's wife. In the beautiful poem "Salt," Atwood writes:

Were things good then?
Yes. They were good.
Did you know they were good?
At the time? Your time?

No, because I was worrying
or maybe hungry
or asleep, half of those hours.
Once in a while there was a pear or plum
or a cup with something in it,
or a white curtain, rippling,
or else a hand.

and then at the end:

Don't look behind, they say:
You'll turn to salt.
Why not, though? Why not look?
Isn't it glittery?
Isn't it pretty, back there?

The collection's last poems are especially moving, yet never sentimental. The title poem, "Dearly," reflects on the fact that the word is old-fashioned, fading from use. The expression "Dearly beloved" leads the narrator to think of other antiquated words: "Polaroid," "sorrow" and (one soon to be swept away) "newspapers."

Another poem called "Flatline" begins with the line "Things wear out" and ends with a haunting scene perhaps set at a hospital room, with equipment monitoring someone's heart:

No more hiss and slosh,
no reefs, no deeps,
no throat rattle of gravel.

It sounds like this:

Wow. To have just that empty, silent space after the colon is haunting.

The final poem, "Blackberries," takes the act of an old woman picking fruit in the shade to think about generations of women in her family doing this activity ("Once, this old woman / I'm conjuring up for you / would have been my grandmother. / Today it's me. / Years from now it might be you, / if you're quite lucky.")

These are deep and wise poems written by an artist in her later years. I know I'll return to them many times.
Profile Image for Emily B.
442 reviews440 followers
January 29, 2023
I liked the themes of this poetry collection, particularly those about the environment as they felt relevant and important.

Perhaps I would have enjoyed this more if I read it rather than listened to the audiobook. Although it was nice to hear Atwoods voice and I usually love audiobooks to be narrated by the author. I struggled to connect with her poems and voice. It seems rather monotone
Profile Image for Helga.
962 reviews152 followers
March 28, 2022
Dearly is a collection of thought-provoking and unique poems by Margaret Atwood. While the poems are of divers topics, they read like memories from long-gone days.

If you were a song
What song would you be?
Would you be the voice that sings,
Would you be the music?
When i am singing this song for you
You are not empty air
You are here,
One breath and then another:
You are here with me...
Profile Image for abthebooknerd.
294 reviews144 followers
December 15, 2020
⭐ 3.75 / 5 ⭐

Altogether, an eerie, beautiful, and haunting collection of poems and prose from one of the world's most iconic writers.

The hand on your shoulder. The almost-hand: Poetry, coming to claim you.

What am I supposed to say? I mean, c’mon, it’s Margaret Atwood. She’s a literary icon. While some of the poems weren’t to my taste - let’s be honest: it was great writing, but some of those poems were the weirdest things I’ve ever read 😂 One of them is called “Double-Entry Slug Sex”.


Anyway, overall every bit of poem and prose was well-written and compelling. Atwood takes the simplest pleasures or heartbreaks that life has to offer, and expands on them: spinning them into something beautiful in her legendary style.

Big thank you to Netgalley + Ecco for sending me a review copy of this book!

*Note: Any quotes referenced in this review, may or may not be subject to change in the finished copy of the book.
Profile Image for Julie Ehlers.
1,111 reviews1,414 followers
March 14, 2021
... The lovers caught
and sealed inside a cavern,
voices raised in one last hovering
duet, until the small wax light
goes out. Well anyway
I held your hand and maybe
you held mine
as the stone or universe closed in
around you.
Though not me. I'm still outside.

I've read Margaret Atwood's poetry only in bits and pieces before this collection, and besides The Testaments, I realize the most recent novel of hers I've read is Oryx and Crake, from 2003, so Dearly was a good way to catch up on some of the holes in my experience with her oeuvre. It didn't disappoint: Here is the feminism of her earlier novels, unapologetic, and here is her trademark observation of the natural world, laced with vivid imagery. But the most affecting are the beautiful, sad but wise poems about aging, mortality, and the illness and death of her longtime partner. It sounds dark, and it is, but there's a matter-of-fact quality that is both bracing and soothing. This is a Margaret Atwood we haven't seen on the page before, and poetry is the perfect way to share her new hard-earned discoveries. Recommended for all Atwood fans and poetry lovers.

I received this free review copy via Goodreads. Thank you to Goodreads and the publisher.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,065 reviews1,474 followers
May 17, 2021
I was highly impressed with this collection of Atwood's poetic creations. I have long been a fan of her novels, short story anthologies, and the woman herself, and am so glad I found as much to praise, here.

This collection was split into five sections and each had a distinct theme that tied its contents together. My personal favourite was, I believe, the third section, which focused on spreading the author's feminist ideologies, as well as the penultimate section, which focused on the human destruction of our planet.

Despite the personal anecdotes and introspective nature that featured throughout, this also included many poems that dealt entirely with emotion that, I feel, would allow many readers to find much of themselves and their own worries inside this collection.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Margaret Atwood, and the publisher, Penguin Random House UK Audio, for this opportunity.
Profile Image for Ethan.
236 reviews251 followers
January 17, 2021
2.5 stars

Dearly is a powerful, heartbreaking, and incredibly poignant collection of poems from Margaret Atwood. Although it was powerful enough to bring me nearly to tears, it was also incredibly uneven, and overall a very mixed experience. In 2019, Atwood's partner of forty-six years, novelist Graeme Gibson, passed away. The book is dedicated to him, and the poems toward the very end of the collection are clearly tributes to and references to him. The title story even seems to speak to him directly, saying at one point: "I miss you."

Speaking of the title story, it is the highlight of this collection by far, and is an absolute masterpiece. One of the most heartbreaking pieces of literature I've ever read, it is about what it's like to have your partner die and for you to live on, alone, as the days fade away and you pass the time doing things like digging up old photo albums and trying to keep memories alive. I was nearly brought to the point of tears by this poem, having a partner myself, as it made me think about myself potentially being in Atwood's shoes someday far in the future, alone, with the person I love most in the world being gone forever.

I have some major issues with this collection. The main issue I have is that it's incredibly uneven. There are masterpieces like Dearly, and some other poems that I don't consider as great but that I thought were very good, but the vast majority of the collection wasn't for me. A lot of the poems aren't well-written and describe seemingly random things and occurrences. Some of them don't even make sense, appearing at times to just be random collections of words and images that didn't convey any greater meaning to me. Others were silly and just plain bad.

I also really didn't like how the subtitle of this book is New Poems. When you title a collection like that, the reader naturally assumes that all the poems in the collection are new, i.e. never before published. But this is not the case. In the Acknowledgments section, Atwood admits that some of the poems have previously appeared in publications like The New Yorker. So calling the book Dearly: New Poems when some of the poems have been published previously seems a bit dishonest to me.

Further, this book in hardcover is only 122 pages. Of these, many of the pages are empty pages after (and sometimes before) the pages containing the section numbers (the book is broken down into five sections), which themselves are basically blank pages that only contain a large roman numeral representing the section number. I counted these empty and section number pages up, and they total twelve pages of the total page count, meaning this book is really only 110 pages. The problem with that is the book is priced at an outrageous $32.95 canadian dollars. There are full-length novels published in hardcover in Canada for the same price, so this seems like highway robbery to me.

In summary, I'd say that this was a very uneven collection of poems, ranging from mediocre to masterpiece, but the bulk of the content just didn't do anything for me. I really enjoyed the title poem in this collection, and I think it will stay with me for a long time, but I think I'll steer clear of Atwood's poetry going forward, based on the negative experience of most of the other poems in this collection.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,385 reviews408 followers
February 13, 2022
I had forgotten that I've read this a year ago and read this collection recently. While I think my feelings for this is slightly more than the first time, it's still not a new favorite. I liked it but it wasn't something that stood out for me
I don't read or listen to poems as much as I should. But I needed to listen quick and I decided to try Margaret Atwood poems. She is talented with words, however none of the poems spoke to me or was groundbreaking. They where good, don't get me wrong but I expected more...
Profile Image for Okoń w sieci.
207 reviews1,374 followers
February 26, 2023
Lepiej późno niż wcale
przeczytałem wiersze
i chwalę się, nie żalę.

„Nie oglądaj się – mówią – za siebie,
zamienisz się w słup soli.
A czemu nie? Czemu się nie oglądać?
Czy rzeczy tam się nie skrzą, nie błyszczą?
Czy nie jest cudnie tam, wtedy, za plecami?”.

Ten fragment sprawił, że poczułem strojenie na te same fale, na których nadaje Margaret Atwood.
Bo czemu niby miałbym rozstawać się ze wspomnieniami, skoro – jak śpiewał Zbyszek Wodecki – lubię wracać tam, gdzie byłem.
Przypominać sobie o dobrych rzeczach, których w życiu doświadczyłem.

Margaret Atwood trochę z żalem, trochę z tęsknotą dzieli się z nami swoimi bardzo osobistymi zapiskami. Choć to wiersze, daleko im do poetyckiej wyniosłości i niejednoznaczności. Próżno też szukać rymu.
Atwood jest precyzyjna, dosłowna. Rzadko sięga do metafory.
Wystarczyłoby więcej słów, a już wyszłyby z tego opowiadania.
W końcu to proza jest jej poletkiem i to się czuje.
Jest mistrzynią wymyślania historii i nawet kiedy chce pisać o sobie, to robi to tak, aby czytelnik czuł zaangażowanie jak w literaturze gatunkowej.

Jeżeli ktoś z was ma kompleks ze szkoły, bo nigdy nie zrozumieliście, co autor miał na myśli, to na wierszach Atwood ten kompleks wyleczycie.

Ja zrozumiałem wszystko.
Że dla autorki mi��ość była istotnym elementem życia. Że czuła się momentami szczęśliwa, a momentami kompletnie samotna i niezrozumiana jak ten „widmowy kot”.
Że te wiersze, to może nawet pożegnanie kobiety, która doświadczała i zaakceptowała życie takim, jakim było i akceptuje takim, jakie jest.
Profile Image for Atri .
200 reviews126 followers
November 27, 2020
Mirages, you decide:
everything was never.
Though over your shoulder there it is,
your time laid out like a picnic
in the sun, still glowing,
although it's night.
Don't look behind they say:
You'll turn to salt.
Why not though? Why not look?
Isn't it glittery?
Isn't it pretty, back there?


I'm always there for a reason,
so the dreamers tell me;
I wouldn't know.
This is what I've brought back for you
from the dreamlife, from the alien
moon shore, from the place with no


If there were no emptiness, there would be no life.

Think about it.

That room has been static for me so long:
an emptiness a void a silence
containing an unheard story
ready for me to unlock.

Let there be plot.


...and close by, a she like a withered ear,
a shed leaf, brown and veined,
shivers in sync and moves closer.

This is it, time is short, death is near,
but first, first, first, first
in the hot sun, searing, all day long,
in a month that has no name:
this annoying noise of love.
This maddening racket.

This-admit it-song.


By daylight something's got to give.
Or someone. Some one
has got to give. A given.
That's how we carry on.


Yes, it was a betrayal,
but not of you.
Only some idea you'd had
of them, soft-lit and mystic,
with snowfall sifting down
and a mauve December sunset...


I'm going away, you tell me
On a long journey.
I have to go away.
No, stay, I call to you
As you grow smaller:
Stay here with me and play!
But suddenly I'm older
And it's cold and moonless
And it is winter...


When I am singing this song for you
You are not empty air
You are here,
One breath and then another:
You are here with me...


Where is it? you say
to the last blue asters,
to the yellow leaves floating in the pool
of the round stone birdbath.
Where is that wisdom?
Not to mention the music.
It must be around here somewhere.
Now that I need it.


It's almost next year,
it's almost last year,
it's almost the year before:
familiar, but we can't swear to it.
What about this outdoor bar, the one
with the stained-glass palm tree?
We know we've have been here already.
Or were we? Will we ever be?
Will we ever be again?
Is it far?

Profile Image for Sara.
1,123 reviews363 followers
December 19, 2020
ARC received in exchange for an honest review 💙

Of the novels I've read from Margaret Atwood, I've always been compelled by her writing. However, I'm not a natural lover of poetry. I'm quite a logical thinker, and the free form of poetry and the often dreamy way it's presented never usually appeal. Unfortunately, I still think I'm not a poetry fan after reading this.

Yes, Atwood still possesses an amazing skill for writing, with a creative mind I'm an awe of. The poems within fill a whole range of categories and emotions, featuring poignant moments of her past (Coconut) to feminism (Princess Clothing, Tin Wood Woman) and the utterly bizarre (Double Entry Slug Sex). The latter parts do feel more personal, with notes of melancholy and talk of death, but somehow I just still couldn't connect with any of them.

It's most definitely a 'me' thing, as I believe lovers of poetry will most likely find something of worth amongst the many, many poems. However for me, I just couldn't relate.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,671 reviews2,664 followers
January 30, 2023
Dearly is a treasure trove, twice the length of the average poetry collection and rich with themes of memory, women’s rights, environmental crisis, and bereavement. It is reflective and playful, melancholy and hopeful. I can highly recommend it, even to non-poetry readers, because it is led by its themes; although there are layers to explore, these poems are generally about what they say they’re about, and more material than abstract. Alliteration, repetition, internal and slant rhymes, and neologisms will delight language lovers and make the book one to experience aloud as well as on paper. Atwood’s imagery ranges from the Dutch masters to The Wizard of Oz. Her frame of reference is as wide as the array of fields she’s written in over the course of over half a century.

See my full review at Shiny New Books, where I have also chosen my four poetry runners-up for 2020.
Profile Image for Nursebookie.
2,191 reviews340 followers
July 25, 2021
I enjoyed this quirky collection of poetry by Margaret Atwood. Carefully crafted with each word forming beautiful thoughts and musings, love and cruelty of nature, and simply whimsical and fascinating! I enjoyed this and will be re- reading this time and time again.

Profile Image for Steph.
576 reviews299 followers
April 23, 2021
How quickly we're skimming through time,
leaving behind us
a trail of muffin crumbs
and wet towels and hotel soaps
like white stones in the forest.
But something's eroded them:
we can't trace them back
to that meadow where we began so eagerly
with the berry-filled cups, and the parents
who had not yet abandoned us
to take their chances in the ground.

(from "winter vacations")

even after years of trying, i still struggle to fully absorb traditional poetry; but it's an enjoyable struggle. i have to say i liked this a great deal more than atwood's early collection the circle game, which i read years ago. not sure whether this is reflective of atwood's evolution as a poet or my growth as a reader, but i'm really glad i picked up dearly.

the themes of these poems match the tender title and pressed-flower book cover. the first in the collection establishes these as atwood's sentimental and introspective "late poems." they are about nature & mortality; aging; the loss of her longtime partner, graeme gibson; environmental destruction; the passage of time & possible futures for the children of the world.

i particularly enjoyed "plasticine suite," which is a series of poems about our overuse of plastic and its ecological impact. bleak, but beautifully written, and something for us all to be more mindful of.

i also loved the poems "invisible man," dearly," and "blackberries."

but here's my favorite, "salt":

Were things good then?
Yes. They were good.
Did you know they were good?
At the time? Your time?

No, because I was worrying
or maybe hungry
or asleep, half of those hours.
Once in a while there was a pear or plum
or a cup with something in it,
or a white curtain, rippling,
or else a hand.
Also the mellow lamplight
in that antique tent,
falling on beauty, fullness,
bodies entwined and cherishing,
then flareup, and then gone.

Mirages, you decide:
everything was never.
Though over your shoulder there it is,
your time laid out like a picnic
in the sun, still glowing,
although it's night.

Don't look behind, they say:
You'll turn to salt.
Why not, though? Why not look?
Isn't it glittery?
Isn't it pretty, back there?
Profile Image for Nadia Jasmine.
169 reviews18 followers
October 28, 2021
এই বই পড়ার কারন স্বয়ং গুডরিডস। নতুন ইংরেজী কবিতা পড়ব বলে ঢুঁ মেরেছিলাম গুডরিডস পুরস্কার পাওয়া বইয়ের তালিকায়। কবিতাই কম পড়া হয়, ভিনদেশী ভাষায় তো আরো কম পড়েছি। সেখান থেকেই এই বইয়ের সন্ধান পাওয়া, অতঃপর প্রিয় বুকসেন্ট্রিকবিডিতে যোগাযোগ করা এবং এনে পড়া। কবিতা টানা পড়তে ভালো লাগে না, তাই এক ঘণ্টার বই গড়িয়ে গড়িয়ে দুইদিন ধরে শেষ করেছি। মার্গারেট অ্যাটউডের গদ্যের মতোই তাঁর কবিতা পড়লে মনে এক ধরণের অস্বস্তি তৈরি হয়। নারী হয়ে জন্মানোর জন্য কিছুটা আধাখেঁচরা জীবনে অভ্যস্ত হতে আমাদেরকে অকারণ যেই উৎসাহ দেওয়া হয়, সেটা নিয়ে মন্তব্য কবিতার বিষয়বস্তু হলে সেই কবিতা নরম কোমল থাকে না। তিনি সেই চেষ্টাও করেন নি, কবিতায় কবিতায় ধরিয়ে দিয়েছেন জীবনে ঠিক যেন কি ঠিক নেই, সেটা। কবিতাগুলোতে জীবন যেমন তা তেমন করে আসলেও এসেছে পালক, মাকড়সায়, ব্যাঙের ছাতায় বা নারকেলে ভর করে। জড়বস্তুর মধ্যে তিনি প্রাণ জুড়ে ভাবেন আর সেই ভাবনা থেকেই এই সংকলনের বেশিরভাগ কবিতা। আর মানুষ ও তিমি ছাড়াও এলিয়েন নিয়ে কবিতা আছে এতে! জড় বা জীব যেটাই এখানে বেছে নিয়েছেন তিনি, সেগুলো তাঁর কলমের গুনে মানুষের চেয়েও বেশি মানবীয় হয়ে উঠেছে।

(কবিতা নিয়ে লিখতে ভয় পাই। তাও, লিখে ফেললাম। পর্যবেক্ষনে কিছু না কিছু মিস হয়ে যেতে পারে হয়তো, এটাই ভয়ের মূল কারন। আরেকটা ভয় হল, রহস্যময় বাক্যগুলোর উদ্দেশ্য বুঝতে না পারা। তাও, লিখতে লিখতে কবিতা পড়তে শেখার চেষ্টায় আরেকটি বই যোগ হল।)
Profile Image for Renata.
442 reviews282 followers
November 12, 2020
Well I read the first poem and I was so excited and I thought this will be a 5 stars reading but as I passed the pages I didn’t felt that impressed and you know, a good book but not too good either? Some poems definitely are amazing but the most of them not so much.
December 17, 2021
Прекрасна е Атууд и отново ми го доказа със „Сърдечно“. За първи път чета нейни стихове и се влюбих. Тази стихосбирка ми е много на сърце поради ред причини, но най-важната сред тях е нейната стойност и как от нея се изливат причудливи стихове и строфи, които са��о Атууд може да напише по този свой чудат и чаровен начин. Личи си, че всичко написано в „Сърдечно“ е изстрадано и прието от самата Атууд, но най-важното е че през цялото време се усеща надеждата ѝ за света, както и желанието ѝ за още живот, за още писане и за още обич.

Някои от стихотворенията ме разстроиха, други ме направиха щастлив. Много е особена тази колекция от поезия на авторката. Странна по свой собствен начин. Оставям няколко цитата от стихотворенията, за да ви покажа каква сила е заключила в думите си:

Там, в нощния въздух
сред високите сгради, музиката умира,
докато вие палите фалшивите си изгреви:
вашата светлина е последният мрак на птиците.
Размагьосан труп си, казват.
Инертен. Изпразнен от молитва,
безсилен пред всички заклинания.
Небивалица, фрагмент.
Безжизнен. Без.
Сърдечно възлюбени, събрани тук заедно
в това затворено чекмедже,
и вече избледнявате, липсвате ми.
Липсват ми липсващите, тези, които си тръгнаха по-рано.
Липсват ми дори тези, които все още са тук.
Всички вие ми липсвате много.
Много скърбя за вас.

Скръб: това е друга дума,
която вече не се чува често.
Скърбя сърдечно.
Profile Image for Medhat The Fanatic Reader.
354 reviews108 followers
January 1, 2021
This is the very first collection of poetry that I read on my own, since poetry is not a genre that I gravitated towards or even enjoyed, but the name Margaret Atwood was enough to let me take a leap of faith.

Margaret Atwood's writing is entrancing. She can write about anything, and I will still read it and feel embraced by her words.

In Dearly: New Poems, she dives and explores a variety of topics, and the ones that touched me the most were those that were about aging, memory, loss, climate change, and the passage of time. And in these poems, you can almost taste the emotions and pain that deepened with the loss of her partner, the late Graeme Gibson.

And for this very reason, my favorite poem was the second to last piece titled Dearly, a tribute to her late lover.
Profile Image for Sheena.
613 reviews277 followers
December 8, 2020
I get that poetry is subjective but also I haven't been in the mood to read so I didn't enjoy this like I thought I would sadly.
Profile Image for Ann☕.
303 reviews
November 24, 2021
This eclectic assortment of poetry was a Goodreads Choice Award winner for 2020. That is part of the reason I read it, along with the fact I generally like Margaret Atwood's writing. (I wonder how many people actually read the entire book prior to voting.) Otherwise, I usually seek out poetry about nature and not much else for the genre. For this collection, I could relate to some poems especially those concerning the aging process, while I was left scratching my head over the meaning of a few others. Many of the poems are gloomy or filled with regret. If you are looking for a set of joyful and hopeful poems, I'd suggest looking elsewhere. Overall rating, 3.4 stars, rounded down to 3.
Profile Image for persephone ☾.
509 reviews2,427 followers
November 23, 2021
" In the old days, all werewolves were male.
They burst through their bluejean clothing [...]
exposed themselves in parks,
howled at the moonshine.
Those things frat boys do "

I-. Margaret you didn't have to say this !! but you're right though 🙄
Profile Image for Gerhard.
1,076 reviews550 followers
November 15, 2020
That room has been static for me so long:
an emptiness a void a silence
containing an unheard story
ready for me to unlock.

Let there be plot.

Review to follow.
Profile Image for Maria Yankulova.
736 reviews275 followers
August 20, 2022
Със “Сърдечно” нямахме любов от пръв поглед, даже в началото реших, че ще се “скарам” отново с Маргарет Атууд, но малко преди средата се хванах в капана на тези провокативни стихове.

Със сигурност не са лъжица за всяка уста, но аз не обичам класическа поезия за птички и пчелички и доста ми хареса.

Оформлението на книжното тяло е повече от великолепно. Шапка свалям на Orange Books!!!

Оставям н��колко откъса.
Твърде много хора говорят за това какво трябва да е,
за да бъде модерна или поне
да не бъде убита.

В съседната къща са се нанесли жени,
увити в парчета плат.

Те дават лош пример.
Извадете камъните.
Всички се разплакаха, когато видяха
в квадратното синьо море на телевизора
толкова голяма и тъжна

майка кит,
която носи детето си
в продължение на три дни, оплаквайки
смъртта му от токсичната пластмаса.
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