Cover Image: Coming to Age

Coming to Age

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Member Reviews

An extensive collection of poetry relating to the joys, hardships, challenges, and perspectives on aging.  This isn't a set of feel good poems, but it does focus a good amount on poetry as a way to recontextualize and see the positives in aging.  Some old favorites (FIGHT FIGHT AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT) are mixed with a smattering of lesser known, contemporary, and even translated poets (and I wish their were more of those).   

I think the poem that will stick with me longest is Vespers, by Louise Glück:

In your extended absence, you permit me 
use of earth, anticipating
some return on investment. I must report 
failure in my assignment, principally 
regarding the tomato plants.
I think I should not be encouraged to grow 
tomatoes. Or, if I am, you should withhold 
the heavy rains, the cold nights that come 
so often here, while other regions get 
twelve weeks of summer. All this 
belongs to you: on the other hand, 
I planted the seeds, I watched the first shoots 
like wings tearing the soil, and it was my heart 
broken by the blight, the black spot so quickly 
multiplying in the rows. I doubt
you have a heart, in our understanding of 
that term. You who do not discriminate 
between the dead and the living, who are, in consequence, 
immune to foreshadowing, you may not know 
how much terror we bear, the spotted leaf,
the red leaves of the maple falling
even in August, in early darkness: I am responsible 
for these vines.
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This is a great collection of poetry on themes to match the “reflecting on wisdom & contemplating age”. However, I was not the biggest fan of how anecdotes were woven into the anthology. While I think some of the anecdotes were worthwhile, it would have been better to have a navigation to a glossary of notes in the back rather than the disjoint of structure breaking up the flow of poems.
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A lovely anthology of poems from all sorts of poets and places, brought together by the common theme of growth, aging and living and highlighted by some thoughtful forewords and commentary threaded through the book.
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Coming to Age: Growing Older with Poetry is a nice anthology of poems about growing older from a wide selection of poets who have "been there".

Poetry is a genre that, for me, brings the commonality of the human experience to life. I can lose myself in the well-turned phrases, the imagery, the relatability.

As is the case with all literature, some of these poems resonated with me, some did not, but enough did to make this a worthwhile read. 3.5 stars from me.

My thanks to NetGalley and Little Brown & Company for allowing me to read an ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. All opinions stated here are my own.
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I can tell that these are well-written poems. However, it's not the type of poetry I usually read. It just didn't appeal to me. Rating: 3/5 stars
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A good read, full of poems by known and new to me authors.
It made me think and I loved what I read.
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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Thanks for netgalley and respective publishers for sending me a copy.

This is the most recommended book of poetry and poetry lovers.

Each and every poem was fantastic.
It's a collection of world's wonderful poetry from various renown poets and poetess.

Just like Lament !!! Keats !!! R.L. Stevenson !!! Ralph Waldo Emerson!!! Elaine Feinstein !!!

My favorite poetess-- Emily Dickinson.

Few exceptional lines ::---

 ***
Suddenly, after you die, those friends
who never agreed about anything
agree about your character.
They’re like a houseful of singers rehearsing
the same score:
you were just, you were kind, you lived a fortunate life.

**
 “No man ever steps into the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.”

Margaret Randall

Wallace Stevens


The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love-letters from the bookshelf,
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In her poem Reconsideration, Mary Ann Hoberman reminds us, "...only lucky folk grow old."

When I was a young woman older people would tell me, "Don't ever grow old, Nancy." I would laugh and reply, "It's better than the alternative."

Now I am an older person, I still think old age better than the alternative. Still, every year brings a new reminder of what I am loosing. For the first time I feel a chill at the idea of nothingness. How can I not be? How can the world be if I am not?

This mystery begins to niggle at me when I wake at night. 

Coming to Age is a collection of poetry that speaks to the universal human experience of aging and the concerns and joys that accompany growing older. The poems were chosen for their universality and accessibility.

Themes include being rooted in this time and place; the passage of time; the solace of nature; the physical body's frailty; the loss of loved ones; the view from old age; the memories that made us who we are; the mystery of life; and that which gives solace and joy and sustains us.

Many of the poems moved me, eliciting a cold chill of recognition or a warm sun of memory.

"But memories, where can you take them to? Take one last look at them. They end with you," wrote Clive James in Star System. And I wonder about all the knowledge I hold that will be lost, the swing of my mother's blonde ponytail ascending the stairs when I was three, the sound of my son's baby voice. And I regret all the untold tales held secret in my mother's breast, the stories lost with death.

It takes a kind of courage to read these poems, to open yourself to grapple with life and death. But you will find catharsis and a recognition that you are not alone, and you will perhaps even find joy. 

There is "So much to do still, all of it praise," Derek Walcott wrote in Untitled #51.,"...how pure a thing is joy."

"What love, what longing, my reader, speaks to you from this page!" proclaims John Hall Wheelock in To You, Perhaps Yet Unborn, in which he imagines readers who read his words posthumously.

These poems are the gifts of poets whose words reach out over years or centuries to alter our perceptions and comfort us.

I was given a free ebook by the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.
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This year, I promised myself that I would read more poetry. This is my second book of poetry that I've read this year and is probably my favorite. I think I enjoyed this collection so much because it was from such a wide variety of poets and it really gave me a chance to be exposed to a bunch of different styles and themes.  Although this book is focused on aging and getting older, I think that many people of all different ages will get a lot out of this collection. Anyone who has dealt with aging (old or young) will find poems in this collection that they can relate to. I really enjoyed the poems that encouraged the reader to experience and enjoy life no matter how far along in life you are. 

A few of my favorites from the collection: 

Season to Season by Clive James
Living in the Body by Joyce Sutphen
In the Borderlands by Ursula K. Le Guin
Forgetfulness by Billy Collins
Wean Yourself by Mathnawi, III 49-6
The End and the Beginning by Wislawa Szymborska (translated from the Polish by Joanna Trzeciak)
Advice by Langston Hughes
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