From the LA Times article last week on the death of poet, Jack Gilbert:
Some critics and other readers are put off by certain trivial qualities in Gilbert’s work, for example his penchant for drawing upon favorite motifs again and again – the moon, the Aegean, women’s breasts. But this seems to say less about Gilbert and more about the culture of our time, when we have difficulty acknowledging significance, when our post-postmodernist irony makes us uncomfortable with a literature – or any art, for that matter -- of seriousness or weight. This can make it easy to deflate the large so it better fits the scale of our perspective. But to do so is to miss the size of its import. And this tendency has at times failed to adequately recognize the seriousness, power and originality of Gilbert’s poetry.
His work, which is often emotionally fraught and always composed in spare, direct language, is rare in contemporary American poetry in that it so often connects with a wide audience beyond the often claustrophobic world of poetry. And it often connects profoundly. Some readers of his work have reported that their lives really have been changed by some of his poems. And many readers of serious literature, if not modern poetry in particular – those who enjoy reading Philip Roth novels and Grace Paley stories, if not Ashbery so much – are often drawn to Gilbert’s clarity, emotionality and intellectual heft.
Viewed in this light, the poetry of Jack Gilbert is not only among our most important, it is among our most necessary.