Why the Sea is Salt

This volume of Kirkpatrick Sale’s poetry, the first to bring together his work of over twenty years, is unusual in two important ways.

First, the poetry is for the most part traditional in form, with rhyme and rhythm, though the lengths and metric schemes are often inventive. In an age dominated by free and sometimes wholly unpoetic verse-like playing tennis with the net down, as Robert Frost famously said-these poems for the most part adhere to conventional lyric principles and stand out as examples of how fluid and unforced the language can be even as it follows those strictures.

Second, the subject matter of almost all the poems is deeply personal, with intimate portraits of the most basic, and sometimes the most anguishing, emotions. This represents a side of the author that has never been on display so completely before, though those familiar with his historical and critical works will see in them resonances of the same sensibility and passion. Thus while it is unusual to see an author noted for historical writing and a critique of the modern industrial epoch explore so intimately the sense and sensibility of an individual feeling like love, Sale has previously written of the need for an impassioned relationship to the earth as a necessary fundamental of an ecological society.

Some previous critical assessments of Sale’s work:

–“Acute and tough-minded”-Larry McMurtry
–“I am filled with admiration”–Joseph Heller
–“Poems of the highest order and deepest passion”–John Paulits –“Lucid, vigorous a delight”–The New Yorker Download Now Read Online

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