In The World As Is: New & Selected Poems, 1972-2015, Colorado Poet Laureate Joseph Hutchison gives voice to pain and passion, sorrow and joy, longing and exaltation. His poems seem to result from a wrestling with angels—the angels of transformation we all must confront to survive what Robert Penn Warren called "this century, and moment, of mania." This poetry, dark as it can be, is also filled with compassion for the wounded psyche, the torn family, the persistence of nature, the gift of deep love, and the healing power of art. These poems sing with a sensuousness born of experience, insisting that there is more to everything than meets the eye. As Paul Čluard put it, "There is another world, but it is in this one." The world as is.
Joseph Hutchison belongs to that deep-running, straight-talking clan of James Wright and Ted Kooser, who reveal the truth of both inner and outer life in consistently startling, brilliant images. The World As Is distills over four decades of Hutchison's emotionally naked and lyrically transporting poems. Whether he is writing about love, death, politics, family, dreams, or the enchantments of the phenomenal realm, he always ultimately ambushes us into a strengthened sense of our own reality. He is doing some of his best work in the new century ("The Gulf" is one of the essential ecological poems of our time), and in this book we are fortunate to walk with him on the path of his achieved lifetime excellence.
—Thomas R. Smith, author of The Glory and The Foot of the Rainbow
I've been an avid fan of Joseph Hutchison's poems since I came upon one of his early books more than thirty years ago. And now in a single volume many of those poems are gathered together with years of those that followed. Open this book anywhere, and be struck by Hutchison's ability to marry the most appropriate image to the least expected yet profound insight. Take, for example, his one line poem "Artichoke": "O heart weighed down by so many wings." Karl Shapiro once said that poetry is not so much a way of saying things as it is a way of seeing them. Joseph Hutchison is a master of both.
—Andrea Hollander, author of Landscape with Female Figure: New and Selected Poems
"We speak in the possible tense...to make the possible possible." That's one of the myriad moments in Joseph Hutchison's new and selected volume, The World As Is, that causes the reader to stop and reflect feelingly. The overall trope is that nothing in this life comes with a warranty. Yet an entire universe spreads out on the pages of this wonderful book. The achievement of these testaments and prayers is the simplest and hardest to acquire: animate everything with desire and imagination, make everything more alive, and for Heaven's sake don’t try to "capture" anything. "The thread of the real/strings our words like beads..." The words end up brilliant necklaces to adorn whatever, whoever, has brought us a breathless moment.
—Bill Tremblay, author of Walks Along the Ditch and Shooting Script: Door of Fire
This feast of poetry from Joseph Hutchison, spacious, wise, and generous, grabs us right where we live: in our curious minds and aching hearts. Poems that draw us towards center, a lyric spill, with a clean metric, this is an impressive collection, ranging lusciously in breadth and depth. Rich in wonder and the fervent, necessary questions of a reflected life, and rooted deep in place and memory; these are the nimble poems of wide open eyes, heart and arms; embracing family and culture, the body politic and birds trilling in a remembered morning. A social consciousness that is angered but always hopeful, and at home in love, landscape, and history, with an impassioned and studious music: his poetic skill set is large: the work of years of intent listening and deep praxis. Fortunate readers, we, to have this wealth of poems, a book with a view, our own "door standing open to the sea."
—Judyth Hill, author of Dazzling Wobble and Men Need Space
Joseph Hutchison writes prayers, odes, satires, elegies—poems that send us "hurtling blindly through 'the fog of war' " and into the rituals of aging gracefully, all along reminding us: "Alone in my skin, I am not alone." The World As Is invites readers to visit places where household gods teach us to admire the poetry of daily life—from artichokes and guanŕbanas to oil spills, the groans of tractors, and breathing books. Assembled like a cigar box full of treasures, this book honors sleepwalkers, parents, grandchildren, glassblowers, lovers, workers, and the uncles of Thanksgiving. When you read it, be prepared to ache, ponder, and laugh out loud. And "don't forget to breathe."
—Juan J. Morales, author of The Siren World and Friday and the Year That Followed