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The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees (Third Edition) [Paperback]

Weldon Kees , Donald Justice , David Wojahn
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 1 2003
The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees showcases the dark brilliance and absorbing vision of one of America’s most fascinating artistic and literary figures, Weldon Kees (1914–55).

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Review

“Kees was both a gifted lyric poet and a restless experimenter, whose diverse background as an abstract expressionist painter, a jazz pianist and composer, and a filmmaker enriched his sense of formal possibilities.”—Poetry Magazine


“The true impulse of [Kees’s] work shows in its constantly surprising inventiveness and in the certainty and naturalness of its speech.”—Hudson Review


“Not many poets can do better than this; not many ever have. . . . This is poetry to read over and over again.”—The Village Voice

About the Author

Donald Justice is a preeminent American poet whose books include Oblivion: On Writers and Writing and New and Selected Poems. Distinguished poet David Wojahn is a professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University. His collections of poetry include Spirit Cabinet and Strange Good Fortune: Essays on Contemporary Poetry.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Paperback
If the passive despair of Prufrock (or should we say Eliot in a Prufrock mood) could be entwined with the searing wit and rage of S. Plath, the result might resemble Weldon Kees' unforgettable best poems -- twenty of them perhaps, all included in this book. And the comparison with Plath is fair I think, not because both lives ended in suicide but because both were spectacularly inventive imagists and masters of the craft whose poems peer into the abyss. Although this collection contains some of the most harrowing English language poems of our times -- the final poem in the "Robinson" series, certainly -- flashes of black comedy ensure that this book is as pleasing as it is troubling. I for one, find the following lines from "The Crime Club" devilishly pleasing: "Consider the clues: the potato masher in a vase,/The torn photograph of a Wesleyan basketball team,/...The unsent fan letter to Shirley Temple,/The Hoover button on the lapel of the deceased,/The note, 'To be killed this way is quite all right with me.'"
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees is a gem of a book, depressing but deeply moving. Kees was one of the finest poets of the 20th century.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping & Original Poems Oct. 22 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
One of the finest books finds of the year for me! Kees poems are complex and intriguing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kees Combines Harrowing Vision with Darkly Comic Sensibility Feb. 5 2000
By Suzanne Lummis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If the passive despair of Prufrock (or should we say Eliot in a Prufrock mood) could be entwined with the searing wit and rage of S. Plath, the result might resemble Weldon Kees' unforgettable best poems -- twenty of them perhaps, all included in this book. And the comparison with Plath is fair I think, not because both lives ended in suicide but because both were spectacularly inventive imagists and masters of the craft whose poems peer into the abyss. Although this collection contains some of the most harrowing English language poems of our times -- the final poem in the "Robinson" series, certainly -- flashes of black comedy ensure that this book is as pleasing as it is troubling. I for one, find the following lines from "The Crime Club" devilishly pleasing: "Consider the clues: the potato masher in a vase,/The torn photograph of a Wesleyan basketball team,/...The unsent fan letter to Shirley Temple,/The Hoover button on the lapel of the deceased,/The note, 'To be killed this way is quite all right with me.'"
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "This is Grand Central, Mr. Robinson..." June 21 2006
By J from NY - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It would have been sad indeed if the work of Weldon Kees had disappeared into obscurity, as it was dangerously close to doing. Nothing escapes this poets' dark, razor edge sensibility;
the whole thing reads as a kind of pessimistic culture shock. Taking his cues from Joyce and Eliot's "Waste Land", he is pitiless in his assessment of the human condition and civilization.

He is not, however, tiringly depressing like Philip Larkin. He has a voice all his own and it is compelling and vivid. It is pretty obvious that his "Robinson" poems are autobiographical, at least in terms of Robinson's perceptions of the world around him. "For My Daughter" is a poem you will not soon forget.

For my part, I do not believe Weldon Kees is still alive. After reading and re-reading this collection I can't help but see that as wishful thinking. You can't fake this kind of sincerity. I would liken him to Leopardi, Beckett, and other masters of poetic darkness, but he has a voice so individual that he needs no predecessors. An absolute must read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best American poet you never heard of-- March 17 2006
By T. Boucher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Kees is a master of image, and has a profound sense of time and place--his language has the direct and unselfconscious quality of a newspaper headline, and his meters are natural and terse. There is a lumious, jarring quality to his work that makes you feel like you'd found something important that's been lost for a long time. You have. This is the first collection of his work that has ever been generally available.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling poems by a great, forgotten Modernist poet Feb. 9 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees is a gem of a book, depressing but deeply moving. Kees was one of the finest poets of the 20th century.
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Brilliant Collection Oct. 22 2005
By Alexander Shaumyan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Kees is a brilliant modernist poet, who describes the world he sees in dark and apocalyptic tones, filled with biting satirical wit. He poems read like photographic images of the dark reality in which he lives. His style is inventive and original. The world around him is hollow and meaningless, as seen through the eyes of bathers, lovers, scholars, soldiers, politicians, businessmen, actors, and Robinson -- the caricature of the average man of the cold-war era. His vision is the opposite Whitman with a vision that's closer to Kafka and Samuel Beckett, expressing the pointlessness of war and mechanistic civilization. As he writes: "If this room is our world, then let / This world be damned. Open this roof / For one last monstrous flood / To sweep away this floor, these chairs, / This bed that takes me to no sleep. / Under the black sky of our circumstance, / Mumbling of wet barometers, I stare / At citied dust that soils the glass / While thunder perishes. The heroes perish / Miles from here. Their blood runs heavy in the grass, / Sweet, restless, clotted, sickening, / Runs to the rivers and the seas, the seas / That are the source of that devouring flood / That I await, that I must perish by." Kees is one of the best American poets and deserves a wider audience.

--Alexander Shaumyan, poet, author of "Spirit of Rebellion"
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