Some of us have become suspicious of books bearing blurbs by Robin Skelton, but in the case of John Newlove's Apology for Absence: Selected Poems 1962-1992 (Porcupine's Quill), we are pleased to make an exception. This book is as good as it gets when it comes to “selected writings.” The arrangement of the poems is not by “book period,” as we might expect, but rather by the editor's intention that they be read as a single life's work. Indeed, that Apology for Absence (a silly title—how about Analogy for Abscess?) can be read as a single life's work is what's good and what's bad about this book. Good because the poems begin speaking to each other, and thus become a joyous read; bad because one quickly grows tired of Newlove's miserable life, and thus becomes impatient.