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This review is taken from PN Review 169, Volume 32 Number 5, May - June 2006.

A NECESSARY DELIGHT The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan, edited by Alice Notley, Anselm Berrigan, Edmund Berrigan (University of California Press) $49.95, £32.50

The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan have been a long time coming. Berrigan's prodigious output has been overshadowed by the relative success of his early collection The Sonnets, which over its lifetime has been published by C Press, Grove Press, and most recently Penguin Books. As a result, hundreds of pages of often lyrical, gorgeous poetry, neo-surrealist projective verse, lists of 'things to do', and oddly hilarious reports on soda and burger consumption have been mostly ignored outside the small circles of cognoscenti. Finally, we now have pretty much everything Berrigan wanted to publish - found previously in small press editions - collected in one place so we can look at Berrigan's oeuvre in toto.

The editors Alice Notley (a distinguished poet herself and formerly Berrigan's wife) and her sons Anselm and Eddie Berrigan, who are also poets, have done a fine and creative job arranging the selection. They assemble The Collected as a book with a kind of beginning, middle, and end. Beginning with The Sonnets, the editors end the collection by presenting 'fourteen early poems, which [...] help demonstrate where The Sonnets came from. These not-so-good poems contain a number of the repeated lines in The Sonnets, so the book concludes with the beginning, making a circle.' Notley explains how she and her fellow editors reconceived the arrangement of Berrigan's books as ...


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