Other Worlds is true to its title, from a look at our everyday joys and griefs as interpreted by the Mars of classic science fiction and the crazy domain of quantum physics; to studies of the many conflicting realities that America uneasily accommodates in a time of pandemic and protests; to elegiac poems informed by the realms of memory, ghosts, and imagined afterlives. From a poem of one line to a sequence of twelve sections, from comic hijinks to despair, and from private revelation to public declaiming, this is a bravura performance by the only poet to have twice received the National Book Critics Circle Award and who, at age seventy-three, is writing at the height of his powers.
Excerpt from “Last Song”
I choose the other way, with heels dug in. I vote for screaming
yearningly. For heading into the afterlife against the grain of this one. For a slowing down to the pace of a person too absorbed in the glory and grit to work up any hurry for departing it.
What makes Goldbarth’s best poems irresistibly memorable is not their dizzying profusion but their heroic efforts on behalf of memory itself. It’s this thirst to get everything down, to plumb the recesses of psyche and history alike, that gives his roustabout verse its authentic tenderness and tragi-comedic amplitude.
Albert Goldbarth has been publishing books for nearly fifty years. Hewon the National Book Critics Circle Award for Saving Lives and for Heaven and Earth: A Cosmology, the only poet to receive the honor two times. Goldbarth’s other honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Milt Kessler Award. His work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry and multiple appearances in The Best American Poetry series and ThePushcart Prize. He lives in Wichita, Kansas.