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Mort and Gary Young
Mort and Gary Young

Excerpt from Striking Through the Masks
p. 544

Gary’s poems are celebrations. As he looks at the most minute aspect of life around him, he is always aware that he may die at any moment. Thus, every moment is wondrous. His poems look at the ugliness and tawdriness of existence as well, at the many ways we treat and mistreat each other as a species. He flinches from nothing. His is a poetry that ranges over the entire spectrum of experience, as No Other Life amply demonstrates.

Gary once told me he couldn’t invent incidents or characters, that the incidents in all his poems had actually happened. That means his poems, with all their bustling characters and events, are largely autobiographical or ruminations about stories he has been told, heard on newscasts, or read in newspapers. Such knowledge makes No Other Life an inspiration. The tender, loving poems about nature, his children, and family, as well as his reflections about the larger world, make that volume for me one of the premier books of poetry of the last thirty years. It is literally the history of the last fourth of the twentieth century as one man experienced it. At the same time, the experiences he records are timeless reflections of the human condition.


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