Photo Credit: Carolla Clift, 2003
Some quotes from reviews of John Balaban’s poetry:
“Balaban’s language is lyrical and lovely, lifting us beyond the morass of our complicated lives, instilling in our hearts the hope of an exalted existence here on earth.”
“…poem after poem…hook the eye of the mind and the heart like burrs, like fine, precise, individual fibers of a cactus plant, so minutely and sharply seen that they stick beneath the readers’s skin forever.”
--Patricia Goedicke, New Letters.
“An adventurous, strong-spirited work that combines the storyteller’s narrative with the lyric poet’s concern for language and image.”
--Christian Science Monitor, on Blue Mountain.
“The austere, exasperated tenderness of James Agee come to mind, as well as that of James Wright in Two Citizens.”
--Jack Marshall, Poetry Flash.
“Balaban’s emotional range is impressively wide, and deeply human—by turns compassionate and angry, somber and humorous, earnest and ironic. His voice is strong; his poems are important.”
--Briggs Seekins, Harvard Review.
“…a lyric poet as well as a tragic poet with a rare moral voice.”
--Colin Campbell, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“This graceful book by a Lamont winner (After Our War, LJ 5/15/74) is a powerful testimony to hope.”
--Library Journal, on Words for My Daughter.
“Reading more like an adventure tale than poetry, this seemingly casual book is funny, moving, and frequently wise.”
--Booklist, on Blue Mountain.
“Balaban seems to me our moral spokesperson, our lyricist, our polemicist, exhorter, and consoler: in short, the poet we need.”
“The result is a style both tough and flexible, capable of encompassing contrasts of beauty and horror perceived unflinchingly, and of juxtaposing bitter reminders of our sleazy asd cruel fin de siecle with a tenderness of feeling and language towards whatever is gentle, vulnerable, and hopeful.”
“John Balaban’s compelling poems are alive with sensuous experience, his perspicuous language embracing both irony and compassion. …this poet feels the possibilities of redemption in the natural world, and in the power of poetry.”
“From the beginning, John Balaban’s gift for language has been wholly devoted to his need to face directly and mine sense from the bewilderment and anguish being implicated in the history and suffering of our time.”