Orientarsi con le stelle

By Raymond Carver, Tess Gallagher

2,117 ratings - 4.31* vote

Anche se sono stati i racconti a renderlo celebre, Raymond Carver ha sempre alternato alla prosa la poesia, con risultati di pari perfezione, al punto che l’autore si considerava prima poeta e poi narratore. Questa raccolta completa dei suoi versi offre una visione totale di quella che è stata definita «l’altra musa» di Carver. Dalle prime poesie di Voi non sapete che cos’ Anche se sono stati i racconti a renderlo celebre, Raymond Carver ha sempre alternato alla prosa la poesia, con

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Book details

Paperback, 502 pages
April 2013 by Minimum Fax

(first published December 31st 1996)

Original Title
All of Us: The Collected Poems
8875214883 (ISBN13: 9788875214883)
Edition Language

Community Reviews


Sometimes reading an entire collection of poems cover to cover is exhausting and maybe even inadvisable work. In fact, I often read poetry collections on the side as I'm reading fiction (or non-) because it requires such focus.

You know the feeling. Especially with poems that yawn and stretch out over a page or two. You're reading and suddenly you realize your mind has drifted, like a newbie meditation acolyte trying on Buddhism for size. You go back. Remind yourself. Focus on the words! Start over! Deep breath and go....

With Raymond Carver, this is less of an issue. One reason is his style. It is quite idiomatic, often written in chummy vernacular. Deceivingly simple, too. A Hemingway of poetry, then. And before long, due to the repeating themes coming at you in waves (like, say, Bach's music), you feel like ole Ray is your bud. Your best pal. Sympatico. Amigo.

And, say. I can write like this, too! Look how simple! Just as Hem breeds legions of aspiring short story writers who crash into the craggy shores of imitation, so does Carver with poetry imitators. The Scylla and Charybdis of deceptively simple. Scrivener sailors beware.

If, like me, you're not at home with narrative poetry and caught up with the Johnny One-Note of lyrical poetry, Carver's the antidote. He's known for his short stories more than his poetry, but so many of these thrive on the same strengths--the ability to choose a few key details from his own life or another's, to quickly build a story, to deftly find emotion or one small note of truth in it.

Many of the poems focus on simple things that make life worth living. And on death. Which is ironic and not. On the one hand, death is a theme in most all writer's writing from the dawn of days. Where do we go? And why me? Special old me? The other irony is Ray's own early demise to cancer. Struck down at age 50. The last poems are written through that glass darkly.

This particular collection contains every poem Raymond Carver ever wrote. In the back there are appendices, the first one containing his early, unpublished poems. I read these first, then went back and read in order of his four published collections so I could see his growth as a poet. He's an end-stop guy. When he's in an enjambment, he knows how to get out of it, so to speak. Lots of dependent clauses with periods. If you're enamored of complete sentences in your poetry and if grammar violations bother you, enter at your own school marm-ish risk.

Here are some sample works I like:


On the Columbia River near Vantage,
Washington, we fished for whitefish
in the winter months; my dad, Swede-
Mr. Lindgren-and me. They used belly-reels,
pencil-length sinkers, red, yellow, or brown
flies baited with maggots.
They wanted distance and went clear out there
to the edge of the riffle.
I fished near shore with a quill bobber and a cane pole.

My dad kept his maggots alive and warm
under his lower lip. Mr. Lindgren didn't drink.
I liked him better than my dad for a time.
He lets me steer his car, teased me
about my name "Junior," and said
one day I'd grow into a fine man, remember
all this, and fish with my own son.
But my dad was right. I mean
he kept silent and looked into the river,
worked his tongue, like a thought, behind the bait.

"This Morning"

This morning was something. A little snow
lay on the ground. The sun floated in a clear
blue sky. The sea was blue, and blue-green,
as far as the eye could see.
Scarcely a ripple. Calm. I dressed and went
for a walk -- determined not to return
until I took in what Nature had to offer.
I passed close to some old, bent-over trees.
Crossed a field strewn with rocks
where snow had drifted. Kept going
until I reached the bluff.
Where I gazed at the sea, and the sky, and
the gulls wheeling over the white beach
far below. All lovely. All bathed in a pure
cold light. But, as usual, my thoughts
began to wander. I had to will
myself to see what I was seeing
and nothing else. I had to tell myself this is what
mattered, not the other. (And I did see it,
for a minute or two!) For a minute or two
it crowded out the usual musings on
what was right, and what was wrong -- duty,
tender memories, thoughts of death, how I should treat
with my former wife. All the things
I hoped would go away this morning.
The stuff I live with every day. What
I've trampled on in order to stay alive.
But for a minute or two I did forget
myself and everything else. I know I did.
For when I turned back i didn't know
where I was. Until some birds rose up
from the gnarled trees. And flew
in the direction I needed to be going.

"My Dad's Wallet"

Long before he thought of his own death,
my dad said he wanted to lie close
to his parents. He missed them so
after they went away.
He said this enough that my mother remembered,
and I remembered. But when the breath
left his lungs and all signs of life
had faded, he found himself in a town
512 miles away from where he wanted most to be.
My dad, though. He was restless
even in death. Even in death
he had this one last trip to take.
All his life he liked to wander,
and now he had one more place to get to.
The undertaker said he’d arrange it,
not to worry. Some poor light
from the window fell on the dusty floor
where we waited that afternoon
until the man came out of the back room
and peeled off his rubber gloves.
He carried the smell of formaldehyde with him.
He was a big man, the undertaker said.

Then began to tell us why
he liked living in this small town.
This man who’d just opened up my dad’s veins.
How much is it going to cost? I said.
He took out his pad and pen and began
to write. First, the preparation charges.
Then he figured the transportation
of the remains at 22 cents a mile.
But this was a round-trip for the undertaker,
don’t forget. Plus, say, six meals
and two nights in a motel. He figured
some more. Add a surcharge of
$210 for his time and trouble,
and there you have it.
He thought we might argue.
There was a spot of color on
each of his cheeks as he looked up
from his figures. The same poor light
fell in the same poor place on
the dusty floor. My mother nodded
as if she understood. But she
hadn’t understood a word of it.
None of it made any sense to her,
beginning with the time she left home
with my dad. She only knew
that whatever was happening
was going to take money.
She reached into her purse and bought up
my dad’s wallet. The three of us
in that little room that afternoon.
Our breath coming and going.
We stared at the wallet for a minute.
Nobody said anything.
All the life had gone out of the wallet.
It was old and rent and soiled.
But it was my dad’s wallet. And she opened
it and looked inside. Drew out
a handful of money that would go
toward this last, most astounding, trip.

The best compliment I can pay a book is to say I won't pass it on to a like-minded friend. When I get a little selfish about a book, when I make permanent space like a star on Hollywood on the bookshelf so I can return to it for inspiration, ideas, and unpacking, it's a five plus. I realize he's not everybody's cuppa. He's not into rhyme, meter, or form poems of any sort. But that's a snapshot of me, too. Those don't much appeal to me.

As Mark Twain said of classics, so I say of poetry: I prefer water to fine wine. And if that says something about me, so be it!

William Thomas

God damn you, Raymond Carver. You spent time with Haruki Murakami when your books were selling better in Japan than America. Because the Japanese were infatuated by the deep roots of shame in your work, and we were too scared of how it made us feel. You spent time with Bukowski when he had money and threw it around like a man who understood how ephemeral it was. You were the best and no one knew it until you were dead. I love you, Raymond Carver. The same way I love my dad, like a god, untouchable and perfect in all of their flaws.

This book is the most perfect collection of poems on the face of the earth.

For Raymond Carver

Alley Wine

we drank until we bled
one way or
three brothers tugging
at the same old bottle.
i hadn't eaten
in days but still I managed to shit my pants.
they doubled over
but i did it so they'd have to take care of me for a change.

Steven Godin


FIRES (1983)
APPENDIXES: Including Uncollected Poems

Three of my faves below. And there were many!


Now that you've gone away for five days,
I'll smoke all the cigarettes I want,
where I want. Make biscuits and eat them
with jam and fat bacon. Loaf. Indulge
myself. Walk on the beach if I feel
like it. And I feel like it, alone and
thinking about when I was young. The people
then who loved me beyond reason.
And how I loved them above all others.
Except one. I'm saying I'll do everything
I want here while you're away!
But there's one thing I won't do.
I won't sleep in our bed without you.
No. It doesn't please me to do so.
I'll sleep were I damn well feel like it —
where I sleep best when you're away
and I can't hold you the way I do.
On the broken sofa in my study.


As he writes, without looking at the sea,
he feels the tip of his pen begin to tremble.
The tide is going out across the shingle.
But it isn't that. No,
it's because at that moment she chooses
to walk into the room without any clothes on.
Drowsy, not even sure where she is
for a moment. She waves the hair from her forehead.
She sits on the toilet with her eyes closed,
head down. Legs sprawled. He sees her
through the doorway. Maybe
she's remembering what happened that morning.
For after a time, she opens one eye and looks at him.
And sweetly smiles.


Cool summer nights.
Windows open.
Lamps burning.
Fruit in the bowl.
And your head on my shoulder.
These the happiest moments in the day.

Next to the early morning hours,
of course. And the time
just before lunch.
And the afternoon, and
early evening hours.
But I do love
these summer nights.
Even more, I think,
than those other times.
The work finished for the day.
And no one who can reach us now.
Or ever.


There’s a sense
that I’ve lost—not everything,
not everything, but far too much.
A part of my life forever.
Went on with my life. But
that memory entering like a spike.
The stars
burning holes in the sky. Becoming ash, yes.
But it’s all right, they’re supposed to do that.
Those lights we call stars.
Burn for a time and then die.
Me hell-bent. Wishing
it were tomorrow already.
[…] I was beginning to understand how it’s possible
to be in one place. And someplace else, too.
There was a time
I would’ve died for love.
No more. That center wouldn’t hold.
It collapsed. It gives off
no light. Its orbit
an orbit of weariness.
I remember the morning I closed the lid
on memory and turned the handle.

Locking it away forever.
Nobody knows what happened to me
out here, sea. Only you and I know.
The feeling of loss that gripped me then
grips me still. How can I communicate what I feel
about any of this?
Suppose I say ,summer,
write the word “hummingbird,”
put it in an envelope,
take it down the hill
to the box. When you open
my letter you will recall
those days and how much,
just how much, I love you.


I know it's hip to hate him and now with the Lish melodrama going on, he's even more tarnished I suppose. But I've always been a big fan of the writing even with its uneven quality. The poems are often despised for their prosoid, talky, confessionalist New Yorker qualities...there are some like that in here but the vast majority strike me as successful transpositions of a particular school of Russian poetry into English. He's very Russian for an American. I think he was trying to write up to Chekhov's level all along, and I think he succeeded in much of the fiction and some of the poetry. I admire the bleakness, and the eye is spookily dead on in the imagery often. He was a good (if overextended) man and a great writer. Out of that disparity--which Carver was exceedingly cognizant of, and agonized over--much of the writing is born. His work often manages to make morality (the ethical) an intersting and even beautiful subject. I admire him and I admire his books. There's a reason his books get translated into so many languages.


There's more to Raymond Carver than short fiction.


... and this but a rough record / of the actual and the passing.


Your Dog Dies
You Don't Know What Love Is (an evening with Charles Bukowski)
The Mailman as Cancer Patient
The Ashtray
Still Looking Out for Number One
Next Year
Locking Yourself Out, Then Trying to Get Back In
My Boat
Reading Something in the Restaurant
The Author of Her Misfortune
The Possible
An Account

Left off the highway and
down the hill. At the
bottom, hang another left.
Keep bearing left. The road
will make a Y. Left again.
There's a creek on the left.
Keep going. Just before
the road ends, there'll be
another road. Take it
and no other. Otherwise,
your life will be ruined
forever. There's a log house
with a shake roof, on the left.
It's not that house. It's
the next house, just over
a rise. The house
where trees are laden with
fruit. Where phlox, forsythia,
and marigold grow. It's
the house where the woman
stands in the doorway
wearing sun in her hair. The one
who's been waiting
all this time.
The woman who loves you.
The one who can say,
"What's kept you?"

The Debate
Some Prose on Poetry
What the Doctor Said
The Man Outside


These poems are Carver at his most distilled: Carver the drinker, and Carver in recovery. Carver the reader, particularly of Chekhov, the outdoorsman, the worker, the devoted husband, the cigarette-breathed loser who picks up barmaids, the fighter, the big ol' softie, the man who knew Haruki Murakami before anyone else in America, and much more. What he lacks in poetic ability, he makes up for in heart, and while there's not a lot of technical brilliance, there's this sense that these are miniature slivers of short-story, all told with a profoundly empathetic voice.

Like many of his colleagues in American literature at the time, he was once an archetypal, self-destructive, blustering, alcoholic poète maudite. Unlike a lot of his colleagues, he eventually managed to connect. The sybaritic lifestyle eventually caught up with R.C., but he beat his demons. All of Us shows him from beginning to end.


his style is like a softer, more subtle, more long-winded bukowski.

it was ok / decent but i would recommend his short stories over his poems in general and would recommend finding and reading specific poems (online) over reading a super long collection like this. Poems such as: You Don't Know What Love Is (an evening with Charles Bukowski) , Your Dog Dies , Drinking While Driving.