Direct and compassionate, the poems in Mark Perlberg's collection tell us things we need to know--about art, history, nature, love, and life. Wholly without pretension, these poems make us feel that we have discovered the truth. The poet accomplishes this partly by his delicate touch with rhyme and assonance, partly by making himself seem almost an accidental instrument of the poem, someone who just happens to be conveying it. A reader cannot help but respond with affection and gratitude. The title poem reminds us that the philosopher's stone is more likely to turn up in our backyard--or in our imagination--than in a laboratory. The poems of the second section address history with restraint and tenderness, while those in section three explore contemporary lives. In the final section, Perlberg writes about his family, his friends, and himself. In a poem titled "In My Next Life," the poet says--perhaps smiling inwardly--he will then be "amiable, mostly, but large / and formidable," and adds, with a wink, "I'll insist you be present / in my next life--and the one after that." Warm and inclusive, Waiting for the Alchemist is a beautiful collection.
Mark Perlberg (1929–2008) cofounded the Poetry Center of Chicago and served as its president for many years. He is the author of four other books of poetry: The Burning Field, The Feel of the Sun, The Impossible Toystore, and Waiting for the Alchemist.
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