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A Spring Bouquet of Poetry

As National Poetry Month draws to a close, we recognize five new volumes that celebrate the form, including verse probing the darkness at the edge of everyday life from U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic and hard questions posed in comic fashion from Jane Shore.

Here's a entry from Campbell McGrath's new book, Seven Notebooks, which chronicles a year in the poet's life:

There's blooming out — and darkening in — in Jane Shore's collection, A Yes-Or-No Answer. This is a domestic book, filled with elegies about the writer's late parents, and hymns to the ambivalence of life. Take the simple cadence and serio-comic feel of the title poem:

Six more rhyming stanzas later, we get a less-than-reassuring answer to Shore's question.

Belgrade native and current U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic offers some assurance about the darkness lying at the edges of everything in a new collection, That Little Something. In the title poem, he writes:

In "Poetry," from his volume, The One-Strand River, published earlier this year, Pacific Northwest poet Richard Kenney worries about the state of the genre:

Finally, Thomas Lux, who teaches writing at Georgia Tech, has some fun. Many of the poems in his new book, God Particles, approach life's darkness from a satirical perspective. By now you've been reminded that poets sometimes choose the most ridiculous names for their work. And with Thomas Lux we arrive at the very apex of ambiguity with his poem titled, "Eyes Scooped Out and Replaced by Hot Coals":

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Alan Cheuse died on July 31, 2015. He had been in a car accident in California earlier in the month. He was 75. Listen to NPR Special Correspondent Susan Stamburg's retrospective on his life and career.