Robert Bly,
Jumping Out of Bed
(White Pine, 1991)

Jumping Out of Bed is some of the most comfortable, yet biting poetry I have ever read. It is a collection of simple but no less meaningful poems inspired by Robert Bly's interest in Taoism. If you have tried to read some of the popular Taoist texts, such as the writings of Loa-Tzu, and felt as if it went over your head, this is the book for you.

But these poems are not restricted to an exploration of Taoism, they also redefine solitude. Bly transforms solitude into a glorious, desirable experience, rather than the miserable affliction that the word has come to represent today in the minds of most people. The truth is that solitude is an essential food for poets, and Jumping Out of Bed could not have been written unless Bly had tasted solitude.

The subtlty and depth with which he explores the simple (often overlooked) pleasures of being is well appreciated. Also, the "woodcuts" by Wang Hui-Ming not only make the book beautiful, they offer a freshness not found in most books of poetry. Too often, a book of poems is just a boring display of black words on white page after white page. Wang Hui-Ming takes this book to a different level.

If you enjoy Bly's poetry and do not have this book, get it. If you want a book of poetry free of confessional or self-congratulatory muck and full of importance, this is for you. (By the way, if you ever have the opportunity of seeing Robert Bly read in person, DO IT! He's fantastic.)

- Rambles
written by Gianmarc Manzione
published 15 March 2003

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