HERE AND NOW by Stephen Dunn

HERE AND NOWSome people associate poetry with love.  I suppose it says something about me that for me it’s more about the break-ups.  In times of crisis and confusion, I turn to poetry for solace, for truth, for answers.  Such as, when I’m wondering about a man I fell for but had to walk away from: Was he not really as warm as his 37 Emails seemed to suggest?  Does “smitten” mean something I’m not aware of?  Could he truly feel NOTHING to see me go?

At times like these, Stephen Dunn, who has spent decades trying to figure things out through poetry, is an invaluable resource.  Most recently I picked up his 2011 HERE AND NOW, a slim volume ripe with Dunn’s hard-earned wisdom and signature self-deprecating wit.  I love his imagination, too, as in this one called “Love,” which begins:

Found dead in an alley
of words: awesome,
no hope for it, and share,
which must have fallen
trying to get by on its own,
and near the trash cans,
almost totally exhausted,
the barely breathing cool.

But there’s love
among the disposables,
waiting, as ever,
to be lifted
into consequence…


I won’t say how that one ends.  It is one of many gems that Dunn offers: precise, dusty, pure.  I also appreciate how “Why” begins:

Because you can be sure a part of yourself is always missing
and if directly pursued cannot be found…


That seems about right.  And yet we keep on trying.


About OnlyGoodBooks

Creator of The Literacy Cookbook (, I am an educational consultant who also happens to love to read incessantly. I found myself referring friends to so many books that it seemed like time to create a blog to record all of these recommendations. So here it is.
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