A New Path to the Waterfall by Raymond Carver

Copyright 1989
Checked out 2 times in 21 years
Last checked out 13 years ago

Although Raymond Carver published five volumes of poetry, he is most reknowned as a writer of short stories. In fact, according to the introduction in this volume, he was hailed after his death as “The American Chekhov.” It’s a shame the Albertville library doesn’t have one his short story collections.

Unfortunately, Carver’s poetry isn’t a very good fit for Albertville, with the exception of a couple of fishing poems. It has a flaw that’s not uncommon among books of established literary figures, which is that it’s written for other poets or writers or literary types, a great number of which can’t be found here. The 31 page introduction to this volume is written by his widow, Tess Gallagher, a more familiar name in the world of poetry than Carver. It tells about the process of putting together this book, which occurred when Carver was fighting and eventually succumbed to cancer at the early age of 50.

Though the introduction is both poignant and informative, it’s a story of two literary people, which I don’t think many people in Albertville would find familiar. The project of the book involves bringing other writers into it, writers who many in Marshall County have likely never heard of, from parts of the world they rarely, if ever, give much thought. So a significant part of the collection is a sort of celebration of and harmonizing with these other international literary figures.

The primary value I can see in this volume of poetry for the people of Albertville is perhaps in providing perspective and comfort to those who are in the process of losing someone to cancer or who themselves are falling victim to it. The poetry most relevant to that experience begins on page 101 and finishes out the book on page 126. But how are these distressed people ever going to find this poetry? I would recommend contacting our local hospice and asking if they have a library and either giving them the book or putting it on permanent loan at their facility.


About jppoetryreader

Poetry reviewer and poetry consultant for libraries
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