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In Memory of a Banyan Tree: Poems of the Outside World: 1985 to 2022
Three Wooden Trunks
The Country Where Everyone’s Name Is Fear: Selected Poems
Hurry Back  
  Alvin Greenberg

ISBN 978-0-9717265-9-8     $16  /  $20 (Canada)     6 x 9       

80 pp      
PUB DATE: Spring 2005       Poetry


Here are Alvin Greenberg’s poems of experience, his grown man’s tribute to negative capability. He knows we live in a world of indeterminacy, with our various ignorances and failures of language. Yet without prettying-up these conditions, his Hurry Back offers an unsentimental, clear-eyed paean to them, a kind of “elegiac lean-to/set right out in the weather because the weather’s/what there is and where we do our loving.” Though such sagacity pervades this book, these are not poems of resignation. Greenberg knows the birds on the highway “almost always fly up in time,” but he’s not going to let that “almost” stop him from driving a little over the speed limit.

—Stephen Dunn


Like Tennyson’s In Memoriam, the poems in Hurry Back comprise a multi-dimensional meditation. The poet builds “a kind of elegiac lean-to” within which readers dwell, while he explores “history/ with its cords of bodies stacked behind the house.”He conjures the Ohio of his boyhood during WWII and “the camps, the camps that no one quite believed in.” Stripped of conventional capitalization, Greenberg’s sentences disrupt expectations, as “the heavy plates of the past/ slide up over the present.” A love for the quotidian and a refreshing humor undergird these original, wise lyrics.

—Robin Becker, author of The Horse Fair

About the Author

Alvin Greenberg

Alvin Greenberg is a poet, fiction writer, essayist, and librettist. His new novel, Time Lapse, was published in 2003 by Tupelo Press, and The University of Utah Press published his collection of personal essays, The Dog of Memory: A Family Album of Secrets and Silences, in 2002. His most recent collection of short stories, How the Dead Live, appeared in 1998 from Graywolf Press; previous collections include The Man in the Cardboard Mask (Coffee House Press), Delta q (University of Missouri Press), and The Discovery of America (Louisiana State University Press). His collections of poetry include Why We Live with Animals (Coffee House Press), Heavy Wings (Ohio Review Press), and In/Direction (David R. Godine). He has also collaborated on three operas with composer Eric Stokes, most recently Apollonia’s Circus (premiered at the University of Minnesota, 1994). After teaching for thirty four years in the Macalester College English Department in St. Paul, Minnesota, he now lives in Boise, Idaho, where his wife, poet Janet Holmes, teaches in the MFA program at Boise State University.


Winner of the Idaho Prize for Poetry 2004

Finalist for the 2006 Independent Publisher Book Awards for Poetry