Poetry. Back in print after more than 20 years, Michael Blumenthal’s DAYS WE WOULD RATHER KNOW, originally published by Viking-Penguin and sold out in both of its original printings, was one of the most admired, and most influential, books of American poetry of the 1980’s, and marked the auspicious continuation of one of the decade’s most promising debuts. While different in scope, subject, and style, these seventy poems all body forth a central theme: that – as reality is dissatisfying and satisfaction elusive – hope is in itself an antidote, and possibility is always invigorating. “Love is rarely as exciting as the wish for love,” writes Blumenthal; DAYS WE WOULD RATHER KNOW suggests that we are as fulfilled, as animated, by our longings as by the resolution of those wishes.
Michael Blumenthal holds the Darden Distinguished Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at Old Dominion University. He is author of eight other poetry books, one novel, one memoir, an essay collection, and translations of poems by Peter Kantor. Publications include The New Yorker, and Paris Review. A graduate of Cornell Law School and formerly Director of Creative Writing at Harvard, he is the author of No Hurry: Poems 2000-2012 (Etruscan Press). the memoir All My Mothers and Fathers (Harper Collins, 2002), and of Dusty Angel (BOA Editions, 1999), which won the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award. His collection of essays from Central Europe, When History Enters the House, was published in 1998. A frequent translator from German, French and Hungarian, he practices psychotherapy with Anglophone expatriates in Budapest and spends summers at his house in a small village near the shores of Lake Balaton in Hungary. In May of 2007, he spent a month in South Africa working with orphaned infant chacma baboons at the C.A.R.E. foundation in Phalaborwa, an experience about which he has written for Natural History and The Washington Post Magazine. He is currently a Visiting Professor of Law at the West Virginia University College of Law, where he has taught since 2009.
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“I write poetry,” Blumenthal once commented, “quite unashamedly, because I believe, as Howard Nemerov has said, that ‘the beautiful is still among the possible,’ and that it redeems us…”
“Vendler pointed out that while Blumenthal’s subjects, such as the Holocaust or mental doubt, might be termed “tragic,” the approach he takes in his poetry creates “poems exhilarating to read, full of lifts and turbulence.” Blumenthal’s later books have also been praised for their gentle wit and penetrating insight.”