The best part about Galway Kinnell's new book of poems, "Strong Is Your Hold,'' is the CD that comes with it. He introduces and reads his poems, a trusted guide across the New England landscape and into the joys of being a parent, the lessons to be found in nature, the mysteries of marriage and friendship. At the center of the book is Kinnell's poem about 9/11, "When the Towers Fell,'' first published in The New Yorker.
This is the 11th book of poetry for Kinnell, winner of a Pulitzer and National Book Award, and his first in over a decade. There's something wonderfully intimate about hearing a poet read his own work. Reading along in the book while listening to Kinnell -- by turns melancholy ("Does the past ever get too heavy to lug around?'') and playful ("The bear peers about with the undressedness/ of old people who have mislaid their eyeglasses.'') -- stirs questions about the craft of writing and rewriting as Kinnell departs from what's written on the page.