The River of Heaven was awarded the 1987 Lamont Poetry Prize of the Academy of American Poets for a distinguished second book of poems (judges: Philip Booth, Alfred Corn, Mary Oliver). In it Garrett Hongo has drawn from his unusual background (born in Volcano, Hawaii, of Japanese ancestry, and educated in California at Pomona) to provide the materials for poems that would be highly exotic were they not infused with a level-headed sense of realism and a strong feeling that mundane realities are perfectly natural material for the poetry of our time. Here, Garrett Hongo transforms his mundane realities into elegant poetry. The volcanoes of Hawaii, the gritty urban streets of Los Angeles, a California beach after the death of his father—the places of Garrett Hongo’s past metamorphose into a poetry that is compelling and immediate.
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In its concerns and techniques, Hongo's second bookthe 1987 Lamont Poetry Selectionsuggests comparisons to Wordsworth and Whitman. Combining the former's preoccupation with personal remembrance and the latter's penchant for syntactic repetition and catalogs, Hongo attempts to dazzle the reader with megadoses of imagery both lush ("the harpstring shade of tree ferns") and frank ("a patch of wild land full of blown garbage"). Sometimes he flirts with excess ("spider lilies and ginger flowers like paper cranes/ furling in the tongues of overgrowth"), but the character studies and first-person narratives that speak of life in nonwhite America attain an authority unobscured by imagistic mannerisms.Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib.
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“Garrett Hongo has the poetic skills to match his amplitude of feeling and sympathy, and his The River of Heaven is a wonderful book.” (William Matthews)
“I love The River of Heaven for its stories and people. Garrett Hongo searches out those who inhabit alleys, islands, old graveyards, piers, and learns that ‘splendor must be something of what we all want.’ He extends splendor?and the sight and voice and concern of American poetry.” (Maxine Hong Kingston)
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Book Description Knopf, 1988. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110394568435
Book Description Knopf, 1988. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0394568435
Book Description Knopf, 1988. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0394568435
Book Description Knopf, 1988. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 394568435
Book Description Knopf. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0394568435 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW6.0191765