"Why do people read poems? For comfort and a sense of companionship, for encouragement, for the beauty of language, for energy placed on the page with a wish to give it away. Coleman Barks is one of the best. He has given us Rumi. Now he gives us his own work, which is thoughtful, compassionate, attentive and, at times, positively frisky. We are all enriched by his presence in this collection of his own poems. My advice: get a copy as fast as you can and, by the influence of his voice which honors both the vatic and the experience of his own singular life, be both comforted and mindfully enlivened."
"Reading Coleman Barks is the equivalent of a rich transfusion of vitality. His writings carry a huge generosity of spirit replenishing everything good, funny, brave, brilliant, honest, readers could ever hope for. Nothing rejected or shunned, but life in all its conflicted elegance graciously taken into the circle and tossed up into new light: one of the widest-open, wildest voices we might ever embrace."
"Mute the TV. Silence the I-pod. Settle into Winter Sky. These poems are like inverted poses in yoga. Reading them will cleanse your mind and open your heart. These poems are like friends you’ve never met, to paraphrase Coleman, 'Friends you’ve never met who are looking for you.'"
—Alabama Writers Forum
"Winter Sky is like sitting next to Coleman as he ruminates ruefully over little things and large, making you long to take a walk in the woods with him as he says, 'See that? Right there.' And you do."
"This book is not the planned and ordered universe of Dante—it’s mostly free verse and the organic story, in reverse, of a man trying hard to make sense of the universe and his place in it."
Barks's open-hearted, free verse poetry is infused with a joy of the spirit at play with the forms of the world. His journey through life is deeply embedded in his work. The poems spring directly from experience and engage with subjects such as the elation and struggle of having and raising children, grief over the deaths of loved ones, the transition from parent to grandparent, or the changing nature and intensity of desire. Barks's open letter to President Bush, written days before the invasion of Iraq and widely circulated online, is a poetic plea for peace, offering a startling and moving alternative to war.
Whether it is the childhood excitement of being named best athlete at summer camp or the early signs of dementia at the age of seventy, Barks uses the personal to convey the universal. The unique flow of a life is here in poems that are rueful, confused, torn, and grateful, but always informed by Barks's transcendent sense of joy and playfulness.
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