The fourth volume in the popular series that began with Ten Poems to Change Your Life, Ten Poems to Last a Lifetime focuses on what it means to be truly human. In it, Roger Housden offers us poems on life and death, happiness, seeing ourselves in relation to the world, and, of course, the ineffable—the things that really matter when the chips are down. He describes these passionate poems as “bread for the soul and fire for the spirit.”
The poets Housden has chosen are Billy Collins, Hayden Carruth, Dorianne Laux, James Wright, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Mary Oliver from the United States, D. H. Lawrence and John Keats from England, Rainer Maria Rilke from Germany, Fleur Adcock from New Zealand, and Seng-Ts’an from sixth-century China. And yes, that adds up to eleven, not ten. Housden decided to include a bonus poem for his faithful readers in this, the final volume of the series. As before, Housden’s luminous essays provide an elegant and easy passage into the sometimes daunting world of poetry, enabling readers to feel that in him they have found a trusted guide and mentor.
“The outstanding achievement of popular inspirational writer Housden’s Ten Poems book is that they present poets and poetry that most of his usual audience will embrace but might never otherwise encounter. He finds a poem by former cook, maid, and gas station manager Dorianne Laux, ‘For the Sake of Strangers,’ about how the kindness of strangers keeps her from stepping off the edge of despair, and after it he tells his own story about a trek through the Sinai desert; so doing, he lifts the poem, already powerful on its own, to a higher level of meaning. He repeats the procedure with a rich variety of poets, from Keats to Naomi Shihab Nye, from sixth-century Buddhist poet Seng-Ts’an to Mary Oliver, offering enriching tastes of their best work and, with his subsequent impressions, priming his readers to plumb themselves for their own interpretations of the poems. What better method is there for sharing the love of an art form?” – Donna Chavez, Booklist, starred review*