Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Finding Jack Gilbert and "Refusing Heaven" in a Bookstore

We were in Chicago for a concert; actually, the concert was in the northern suburb of Evanston, home of Northwestern University, and our hotel was in nearby Skokie. Across the interstate from the hotel was a rather large shopping center, which had a Barnes & Noble bookstore, which necessitated a visit. Or two.

Jack Gilbert
We browsed the bookstore one chilly autumn afternoon, when the store was nearly empty. The literature and poetry sections were on the lower, basement level. I remember seeing a table loaded with a sale of Winston Graham’s Poldark books, the television series then all the rage on PBS. The poetry section was rather large, larger than what I was used to seeing at a Barnes & Noble. I browsed and browsed, gradually finding a stack of books in my arms.

One of those books was Refusing Heaven by Jack Gilbert (1925-2012). It had been published in 2005, more than a decade before, and the copy in my hands was a third printing edition that looked brand new (imagine three editions of a poetry collection in the same year). I had a copy of his Collected Poems (2014) at home, which included the poems of Refusing Heaven. I didn’t need to buy the copy in front of me. I was intrigued by its just-off-the-press condition – the book didn’t have a bit of wear on it.

To continue reading please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.

1 comment:

Pamela M. Steiner said...

Jack Gilbert's story as shared here is intriguing, and your comments (on the other page) about remembering life and people we've known and loved are invaluable. I often listened to my father in his waning years talking about his life and the people he'd known...and he'd want to call them (if they were still alive), and so very often on a Sunday afternoon when I was sitting with him (He was in his early 90's), we'd make those phone calls. I'd often have to be the "interpreter", as either the recipient of the call was hard of hearing, or my father had difficulty speaking clearly with the ravages of Parkinson's disease upon him. I tried to write down a lot of his memories, and some I stored in my heart...once in a while they come out on paper. I need to do that oftener, before they are lost forever. Thank you for sharing this today...I am touched by these memoirs...