Robert Pack is the Abernethy Professor of Literature and Creative Writing Emeritus at Middlebury College, where he taught for thirty-four years and also directed the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. He and his wife live in the Swan Mountains, and he teaches at the Honors College of the University of Montana. Pack is the author of eighteen books of poems, most recently of Elk in Winter and Still Here, Still Now, both published by the University of Chicago Press.
Robert Pack takes a moving but often comic journey toward the end of life in his latest collection, Laughter Before Sleep. Infused with lyricism, sensitivity, and intellligence, these poems meditate upon Pack's sense of absence and loss, cherishing what remains; they reflect on the power of anecdote to shape a life in retrospect and recall an unfulfilled plan to raise penguins in Montana. Throughout, Pack weighs the nature of endings from the perspective of old age and embraces the humor and play of memory that keep mortality at bay. Filled with charm and wit but also with philosophical melancholy, Laughter Before Sleep is a superb addition to the poet's encompassing body of work.
"Laughter Before Sleep is an extraordinary book. It is both lighter and darker than any of Pack's previous books. It is suffused with a sense of loss, sweetly and sometimes ruefully acknowledged. Pack's close and beautiful observations of nature are displayed, as they have been throughout his career, but here they have a curious urgency. One feels that his contemplation of nature is a form of salvation."
"Pack's poems may be characterized as exhibiting eloquent pathos, and they show a mature, deeply seasoned courage to surmount suffering in their exaltation of the common life. Laughter Before Sleep returns Pack to Frost's hard wisdom of stoic endurance and to the music of that endurance: a somber joy."
The University of Chicago Press