Jane Kenyon’s death from leukemia at the age of forty-eight in April 1995 was a significant loss to American poetry. As frequent publishers of her work—from 1984 to 1991, twenty-five of her poems appeared in our pages—we feel the loss especially acutely. It is offset somewhat by the publication of Otherwise, which contains a selection from Kenyon’s four previous books as well as twenty-one new poems, most of which were written before she became ill in January 1994. (The only unrepresented book is the 1986 chapbook, Twenty Poems of Anna Akhmatova.) But if Otherwise confirms Kenyon’s place in the first rank of the poets of her generation, it is also an unhappy reminder that we will have no more poems from her pen.

Unique is a much misused term these days, yet there is no poet to whom it may be applied more justly than Jane Kenyon. Ours is the age of the pigeonhole, in which poets are...


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