Angels of Pompeii

Photographs by Stephen Brigidi
Poems by Robert Bly
Copyright 1991
Checked out 1 time in 19 years
Last checked out 19 years ago

The penny-pincher in my soul cringes at the $20 spent on this book. It’s beautiful, yes, but one gets so little poetry for the money–and so little art. It’s another gift book. There are 8 of Bly’s poems in its 34 pages and they are not his best. This book is the result of an interesting project in which a photographer, who had fallen in love with the frescoes of Pompeii, had photographed angels and other figures among the ruins and asked Bly to write poems in response to the photographs. The book’s title is a little misleading. There are only 5 photographs of angels in the book and Bly responds to only 4 of them. Another 4 poems are in response to other figures, some even more beguiling than the angels. The book overall has too many filler photographs that lack interest. 

It seems a shame to recommend culling it, considering the money spent, but I also see no reason to keep it on the shelf. It’s a disappointment. The only “save” I can think of is a teacherly use of it. Have a poetry contest in which people, young or old, come in, choose one of the pictures (or the specific picture could be assigned) and write a poem about it (thus bringing the original project of the book into the community). Then choose the best poem.


About jppoetryreader

Poetry reviewer and poetry consultant for libraries
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