Selected Poems 1938–1988

Thomas McGrath

Half a century of writing that represents a lifetime’s struggle to achieve clarity of vision and to reveal a living soul without masks, without apology or self pity. McGrath is a poet for whom meaning and music are one. As Sam Hamill notes in his introduction: “Throughout these poems, everywhere evident, is Thomas McGrath’s great good humor, an astonished observer awed by beauty and sadness and joie de vivre–camaraderie found only in the hope for justice and in his fierce commitment to compassion and common good.” Winner of the 1989 Lenore Marshall/Nation Prize for Poetry.

ISBN: 9781556590122

Format: Paperback

About the Author

Thomas McGrath was born on a North Dakota farm in 1916. He attended the University of North Dakota and Louisiana State University and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. During World War II he served in the Air Force, and he was blacklisted for his political convictions during the McCarthy era. He worked as a documentary film scriptwriter and was the founder and first editor of the literary magazine Crazyhorse. McGrath received fellowships from the Bush Foundation, the Guggenheim …

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“This is a book that deserves a lifetime achievement award. This is a book that deserves to be placed free of charge on every doorstep… Postpone the end of the world—read some Tom McGrath.” —Bloomsbury Review

“McGrath is, quite simply, one of the very best American poets. His intelligence is equal to Dickinson’s; his ear for American speech is equal to Frost’s; his imagination is as great as Stevens’s. And his durability–both as a poet and as a man–is unparalleled… There is no better writer making poems today.” —Poetry East

“When McGrath is at his best, this harmony of subject and technique results in poems that blend controlled inevitability with surprise… Even without his remarkable long poem, Letter to an Imaginary Friend, McGrath would be one of America’s most necessary poets, one we would all live more narrow and lonely lives without.” —American Book Review

“McGrath is major. If you don’t know his work, you owe it to yourself to dive into it at the first opportunity.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“In many ways McGrath has been our Cervantes, a man in quest of a moral, responsible national character. His fifty years of writing have resulted in some of our most biting political work, enduring poems about modern history and passionate love… McGrath survives and speaks out with the same force found in Whitman.” —Bloomsbury Review

“This book, which represents McGrath’s poems throughout his life, provides us with an immense range: every kind of poem can be found here, with all the versatility of McGrath’s language… His poetry is deeply rooted in the social realities of our nation, and perhaps no other poetry quite matches it for its spirit and skill of language combined with a content and message so generous and public.” —American Poetry Review

“Thomas McGrath has been writing remarkable poems of every size and form for fifty years. In American poetry he is as close to Whitman as anyone since Whitman himself.” —TriQuarterly

“What this book reveals is the poet’s gymnastic flexibility. He offers everything from epigrams… to hymns of praise… He gives us crazy, witty performance pieces (usually political)… as well as Whitman-like prophetic poems.” —Georgia Review

“The publication of Thomas McGrath’s [Selected Poems] is an occasion for rejoicing among all those who love American poetry.” —Robert Bly, Hungry Mind Review

“[McGrath’s] work as a whole is full of idealism and commitment, and these… make him a rarity among his peers.” —Magill’s Literary Annual

“McGrath is one of America’s essential lyric poets. His life and work testify to the power of art to transform hardship into love, compassion and praise.” —Manoa: A Pacific Journal of International Writing

“The most striking aspect of McGrath’s poetry is its eclecticism, an enormous range of topic, tone, and form… Selected Poems is a solid testimonial to fifty years of sustained poetic achievement.” —New North Artscape

“There are a host of memorable older poems here, but the new work comprises a particularly dazzling peroration to an already distinguished poetic career.” —Publishers Weekly

“[Selected Poems] is a generous and handsomely produced sampling of vital American poetry. We owe it to our culture to acknowledge that vitality.” —Small Press

“In one handsome and very readable volume, the best poems from fifty years of work by one of America’s truly important poets are presented… McGrath’s earthy and compassionate vision makes clear a spiritual consciousness for us all.” —Western American Literature