In lucid, elegant poems, Forever contemplates love against the pressing question of mortality after a diagnosis of cancer.
Praised for a voice with "the crystalline, transformative, pure pitch of a lyric poet" (Ilya Kaminsky), James Longenbach explores a life lived with the knowledge of its end in his sixth collection. These luminous, lyrical poems pose a question: Why did this poet once live as if he would live forever? And what does it mean to know that we will not?
Forever explores the meaning of love, from its discovery in the first poem, "Two People," to its maintenance in the last, "Forever." In between, the volume explores the precariously imminent demise of all that we love?the finite lives of other people, the mortal beauty of Venice—all thrown into urgent relief by the poet’s own cancer diagnosis.
Evoking "the vivid dailiness of domestic life…and the specificity and poignance" of memories, "these lyrics are intimately personal, achingly autobiographical" (Langdon Hammer, American Scholar). Forthright, moving, and wry, the poems in Forever look back gratefully—excitedly—on a lifetime of self-making and self-shattering events.