Cover Image: A Year of Last Things

A Year of Last Things

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Member Reviews

It was a thought provoking, enjoyable read. I was fortunate enough to receive a physical copy as well, and I’ve already given it to a friend to read! I know she will enjoy it as well.

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Mr. Ondaatje has long been one of my favorite authors. The English Patient and Warlight are both on my "best books of all time list." What I did not realize (and should have) was that Ondaatje is also a poet. So when I had the opportunity to get a digital copy in advance, I jumped!

The poems are really lovely. Really. Lovely. With this collection of poems Ondaatje takes you with him through the journeys of his life. I read this book through at least three times before putting it down. I have only the digital version, but I will be purchasing a hard copy to keep at my desk. His words are sometimes just the thing to complete your day.

I highly recommend!

I would like to thank Netgalley, Knopf, Pantheon, Vintage, and Anchor for the digital copy of this book! It was published March 19th (and would be a great thing to pick up for National Poetry Month!)

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Narrative, accessible voice and sensory-rich details throughout this collection. Would recommend to poetry students.

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I have always considered Ondaatje a poetic writer--his lyricism is one of the things I love best about his fiction and nonfiction--though I have never read his poetry before. Some of these poems worked very well for me, and others felt cramped or restricted by their form and seemed to want to become something longer and fuller. The poems I connected to the most were the elegies for other writers and especially the poems about writer's portraits or last moments--that sounds grim, and indeed the poem title that was chosen as the title of this collection was a fair selection based on mood--but these were beautiful and haunting. I do recommend this collection, and I enjoyed it overall, but I'm not sure every poem will connect with every reader.

Thanks to the publisher, the author, and Netgalley for my free earc. My opinions are all my own.

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I think some of the poems can be thought provoking and resonate with people of different age groups. Unfortunately I don't think poetry is a genre I really enjoy. So for me personally some parts were hard to get through since I didn't understand the deeper meaning.

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Writing that feels so personal and universal at the same time. I didn't know what to expect going into these pieces as I've never interacted with the writer before but I was blown away.

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A beautifully moving, poignant, and thought-provoking collection of poems. I went into this one not knowing exactly what to expect and having never read any of Ondaatje's previous works, but left satisfied and with plenty to ponder more deeply on. As such, I definitely plan on rectifying my latter statement and look forward to reading more of Ondaatje's past and future works moving forward.

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3.5 stars
Read this on a long plane ride... which was a very worthwhile use of my time. Whenever I start to think I'm well-read, I pick up a book like this and feel like my grasp of literature is much less firm than I'd imagined. I definitely missed a lot of references here—had to look up some words and people as I read—but I bookmarked several poems to go back to and read again. I particularly enjoyed the more personal stories of Ondaatje's upbringing, and all poems related to that. He packs some intense emotion into a compact volume.

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This was okay. The poetry is nice, and I like his writing. I just wasn’t feeling it. I think poetry is such a personal experience that it’s hard to articulate why it does or doesn’t resonate.

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I have not read anything by Ondaatje in years, the last being Anil's Ghost. This collection of poems and short prose pieces is a wonderful re-introduction. There is an elegiac, reflective quality to these seemingly highly autobiographical pieces. It's hard to describe the mood, but the sense is of a world gone by, with a very post-colonial feel. There are some striking images, such as a description of a gentle English birder describing birdsong a few days before his death in WW1.

There is a depth to the recollection here, a distillation of a widely traveled and widely read life. A very enjoyable read.

Thanks to the publisher for this ARC through NetGalley

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What poetry will move us is a very individual thing. For me, Walt Whitman saved my life by reaching across time and letting me know I had worth, value, that my life is sacred at a time when I felt none of those things. Later, I was moved deeply by Mary Oliver's wild geese, as so many people have been. I was enchanted with Alan Ginsberg's poem about meeting Whitman in a supermarket. This book, on the other hand, did not move me or engage me deeply or hardly at all.

It seemed to be a kind of academic poetry with sprinkled cultural references here and there. More clever and intellectual than gritty and heart felt. I am sure some people will love this book, and perhaps think me a fool for not appreciating it Yet as the cliche goes, art is in the eye of the beholder and so, perhaps, are poetry books.

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"A Year of Last Things" by Michael Ondaatje is a beautiful book of poems that talk about feelings like love, sadness, and how time passes. Ondaatje writes in a way that makes you feel every emotion, and his words paint pictures in your mind. Each poem is like a little story that makes you think about life. This book shows how good Ondaatje is at his craft, and it's definitely worth checking out if you like poetry or just want to feel something deep.

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This collection really did not work for me. Something about the way the poems here are written works to keep the reader at a distance, and I found the entire experience awkward and disconnected. Though some poems sparked some emotion, most of the work was clunky and inaccessible. The style was also disjointed and hard to understand, almost pretentious, and I just couldn't see the point of any of it.

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’Writing isn’t just telling stories….It’s telling everything all at once.’
MARGUERITE DURAS


I read this over a period of time, in between other reads. For me, poetry is not something you read poem after poem without thinking about, savoring, or highlighting it if it is one that moves you and you want to think about, and perhaps remember. This collection begins with several thought-provoking poems, but there are also some that are simple, simply lovely, while others take you to other places, and share the view.

This brought back so many memories for me, of sitting by my grandfather when I was a child as he typed out poems he wrote, sometimes asking for my ‘advice’ for the right word to use next, or even what ‘we’ should write a poem about. I still have a copy of all of his poems typed out on onion skin paper. My father also had his own copies and wanted to have them printed for a book for each member of our family. I wish he had, but my father was a pilot, and therefore most often flying around the world somewhere, and he likely forgot about it.

The poems in this book reminded me at times of those days, those memories, and how simple lines and brief passages can carry so much meaning in so few words.


Pub Date: 19 Mar 2024


Many thanks for the ARC provided by Knopf, Pantheon, Vintage, and Anchor, Knopf

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This was an interesting book of poetry that made me think about the lives that different people live.

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I've read and enjoyed Michael Ondaatje's novels, but "A Year of Last Things" was my first exposure to his poetry, which was as precise and intellectual as I would have expected. I'm not a particularly good reader of poetry, but there was much to enjoy here; I particularly liked the poem "There are Three Sounds in the Wood This Morning." Predictably, perhaps, my favorite parts were the prose pieces, especially "Winchester House," an essay about how a previously unseen photo brought back memories of Ondaatje's difficult boarding school years, and more generally, about how memory can be triggered by photos, or smells, or poems, "as you gather distinct fragments you come upon from a remembrance, some of which could belong to another, during the hunt for your own story." Beautiful writing throughout.

Thank you to NetGalley and to Alfred A. Knopf for providing me with an ARC of this title in return for my honest review.

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3.5/5

I first read Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient when I was a senior in high school, and over many years and through multiple re-reads, it has remained one of my favorite books of all time. Ondaatje is a true master of prose and writing evocative imagery.

While I found this was still true in A Year of Last Things, I had a much more challenging time connecting with many of these poems. For me, I believe it was because so much of the writing felt (intentionally) deeply personal to the author, almost as if he were sprinkling little inside jokes throughout the collection. Additionally, there were many, many references to other authors, artists, works of writing, etc. and being unfamiliar with many of these references, I often felt stuck on the outside of the poems, unable to truly access and enjoy them.

Nevertheless, there were several lines and stanzas that I savored and saved to come back to again.
Two of my favorite stanzas (from two different poems):
"All that history until we met / in furious chaos when I loved first / your face, then loved how you / had become what you were"
"This is how deep I was lost, / my darling, in a love so narcotic / I possessed unimpaired splendour / having no other want or wish"

Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced digital copy.

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This collection consists of free verse and prose poems, largely of an autobiographical nature (or presented as such.) A number of these autobiographical poems are at once travel poems, tales from the author's visits to various countries.

While Ondaatje is more well-known for his critically acclaimed novels (e.g. "The English Patient" and "Anil's Ghost,") he's not new to the poetic artform. The poems in this volume are clever, readable, nicely paced, and interesting. I enjoyed reading this book and would highly recommend it for poetry readers.

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Michael Ondaatje’s fiction is luminous and atmospheric, which is what good poetry should be, and this poetry is not - this collection just falls a little flat. The poems feel disjointed, and slightly pretentious - there is a lot of name-dropping that adds nothing to the poems. I kept waiting for the kind of imagery and language that Ondaatje provides in his fiction, but I could not connect in any real way with these poems.

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Such a deft hand. Sometimes i marvel at how a poet uses the same words we use every day - simple, ordinary words - and turns them into something marvelous. This collection seems soft and nostalgic, almost a commonplace book thematically reflecting upon the things he loves, remembers with clarity or half-remembers with feeling, and it almost feels as if he writes these moments unaware that we are watching. I enjoyed being pulled along for the ride and thoroughly loved this tender revelry.

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