This is a new collection by esteemed Michigan poet Conrad Hilberry, his sixth full-length book of poetry.After-Music is a varied and rich collection of meditations on both the personal and universal. Among the many intriguing places, people, and events that Hilberry brings to life in these poems are watching manatees in a Florida canal, a reluctant priest blessing the animals in Mexico, a rushed and sullen checkout girl in the supermarket, and Day of the Dead skeletons that form a mariachi band. Some poems are formal - in sonnets, quatrains, and tetrameter couples - but most are free verse, all of them accessible and enjoyable reading.This collection is divided into five sections, organized by theme. The first and last sections are the most personal and contemplative, from the soul at season's end in "Open" to the moon about to speak in "Silence." In revealing and inviting confessions, the second section lets readers listen in on the thoughts of objects, including an oboe, a cherry pie, a moustache, a mousetrap, and a waning moon. The third section looks at horseshoe crabs, dust mites, memories stored in the hippocampus, creatures steering by pheromones through the sexual dark.
The fourth section offers twelve Christmas poems, containing varied voices and a fresh look at that occasion - something few poems have attempted since Eliot's "Journey of the Magi."Hilberry's poetry bridges the gap between the ethereal realm of the spirit and the stark realism of the material world. Poetry lovers and teachers and students of contemporary verse will enjoy this significant volume.
Conrad Hilberry is emeritus professor of English at Kalamazoo College and author of several books of poetry, including The Fingernail of Luck, Player Piano, and Sorting the Smoke, and co-editor of Contemporary Michigan Poetry: Poems from the Third Coast (Wayne State University Press, 1988).