This prodigiously rich collection suggests that Raymond Carver was not only America’s finest writer of short fiction, but also one of its most large-hearted and affecting poets. Like Carver’s stories, the more than 300 poems in All of Us are marked by a keen attention to the physical world; an uncanny ability to compress vast feeling into discreet moments; a voice of conversational intimacy, and an unstinting sympathy.
This complete edition brings together all the poems of Carver’s five previous books, from Fires to the posthumously published No Heroics, Please. It also contains bibliographical and textual notes on individual poems; a chronology of Carver’s life and work; and a moving introduction by Carver’s widow, the poet Tess Gallagher.
“His eye is so clear, it almost breaks your heart.” –The Washington Post Book World
“The best poems play like short stories in miniature, small heartrending scenes that resonate with telling detail…the lyrical reflections in his poems are as much a part of his formidable legacy as his incomparable stories.” –The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Carver’s poetry is like an almost invisible strand of fishing line reeling us all together, connecting us by the heart.” –San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle
“Carver published three major poetry collections during the five years prior to his death in 1988 at age 50. Edited by Univ. of Hartford professor William Stull, and introduced by Carver’s widow, the poet Tess Gallagher, this definitive gathering includes those books as published, the posthumous A New Path to the Waterfall, and numerous appendices of previously uncollected poems, notes and sources, and a brief biography. Like the short stories for which he is better known, Carver’s poems piercingly observe characters incarcerated by time and circumstance, but whose dreary lives are occasionally ignited by moments of startling clarity. Reading straight through, one is struck by how many of Carver’s poems hang on memory, on near forgotten incidents that flash through the poet’s mind and produce his peculiarly weighty vignettes. Although Carver concentrated on the poor, bewildered and addicted–among whom he counted himself–readers will notice a marked turn toward the hopeful as they progress. Like the painter of “”The Painter & the Fish,”” Carver, toward the end of his life, “”was ready to begin/ again, but he didn’t know if one/ canvas could hold it all. Never/ mind. He’d carry it over/ onto another canvas if he had to./ It was all or nothing.”” Carver put it all into his canvases, and All of Us does a fine job of presenting them for maximum impact.”