By People Staff
October 18, 1999 12:00 PM

Edited by Bill Moyers

In the companion volume to his latest PBS series, Bill Moyers interviews 11 poets who performed at the Dodge Poetry Festival in New Jersey a year ago, ranging from eminences (poet laureate Robert Pinsky, Princeton prof Paul Muldoon) to rising stars (Mark Doty, Jane Hirshfield). Moyers asks some standard questions—Why do you write? What do you love most? When did you start writing?—and sometimes gets boilerplate answers: Because I don’t have a choice. Being alive. In first or second grade. He can also go over the top, as when he opines that Stanley Kunitz (who at age 94 hasn’t lost a step) would “in a rational world” be TIME’s Man of the Century. But there are more than a few nuggets of insight that make up for the occasional lapse. When we come to Deborah Garrison’s “An Idle Thought” (about choosing to be “a true first wife” as opposed to a seductress with “perfected bod, highlighted hair/ and hip career”), we see why her fans might talk about her around the watercooler. Moyers’s work reflects, feeds and will help sustain the decade-long boom in American poetry. (Morrow, $20)

Bottom Line: Clear window into truly poetic souls