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On Time
Poems 2005 - 2014

The Pacific Rim Review of Books

"Re-reading it for the fifth or sixth time, I'm put in mind of what Allen Tate said of E.E. Cummings; that this is a poet with vision, who in a dehumanizing world takes us back to the roots of our humanity...There’s simply no other voice in contemporary poetry quite like hers. Nature literate, Buddhist-inflected, a veteran roadie who’s seen some miles, this book is a treat, especially if, like her, you take delight in looking at birds and fauna: her observations train on sharp-shinned hawks, scrub jays, herons that eat gophers, flickers, song sparrows, and northern California’s ubiquitous wavering eucalyptus."––Trevor Carolan


"As I consider our current moment, its global stipulations, and history's legacies, I return to [Joanne Kyger’s] poems as they engage local environments next to their larger shapes and conditions. Attentive to breath and animated by perceptions, her poems turn on the signatures of voice and attend to time, place, being-ness, politics, the daily, myth, mystery, histories, and the natural world. Visually and aurally shapely, her lines mix tone and mood as they muse, inform, and record . . . Always rich and provocative, On Time includes my favorite poem title ever: 'A Great Vampire Squid Is Wrapped Around The Face Of Humanity’ (referencing journalist Taibbi’s observation of Goldman Sachs). Other lines may pointedly question global violence ‘Can you believe the amount of global war / we are more / than halfway into?’ or consider the nature of time ‘But when has the present ever been singular?’ Whole poems may observe and offer a synthesis of the personal and the political, the local and the at-large."––Hoa Nguyen

Huffington Post

"What is at stake in the poems is more than the plums she's eating, or a dream in which Gary Snyder appears: it's a vigilant exploration of the nature of consciousness in which the particulars of experience––light filtering through the clouds, a neighbor's note, surfers waiting for waves––bridge the gap between inner and other worlds. Across six decades of writing, these careful attentions to consecutive moments collectively constitute a massive humanist document, of which On Time is the latest installment. Reading Kyger is not like reading about a life so much as perceiving what it's like to really live."––Dawn-Michelle Baude

"In Review: Books of 2015, Forrest Gander"
Dec 1, 2015

Forrest Gander lists Joanne Kyger's On Time as one of his "books of 2015" for The Volta.

- The Volta

Chicago Tribune

"Kyger's project .. is a great deal more ambitious than mere writing of a personal journal. She's creating a contemporary history, fusing private and public, personal and national in ways that add up to a formidable alternative to more traditional models of historical narration. As the poet rages about the country's political direction and environmental woes, she envelops her commentary with a peculiar mix of Zen teachings and noir-tinged humor … Kyger's aesthetics have been strongly influenced by her affiliation with poets of the Beat generation. How does the Beat tradition play out in the new century? Not through nostalgia or stylistic memorabilia, but an adherence to ethics of resistance, set in motion by Kyger and the poets whose circle she was part of. Indeed, in a poem with a mouthful of a title, 'I'm Very Busy Now So I Can't Answer All Those Questions About Beat Women Poets,' Kyger keeps up the searing legacy"––Jake Marmer

Publishers Weekly

"Nearly a decade in the making, Kyger's much-anticipated new collection bursts with spontaneity, wit, and a delightful swiftness … Though there are twinges of sorrow, they always appear with an irrepressible, almost self-deprecating humor … Kyger never lacks for source material—"'Everything' is poetry, animated, kicking its heels'—and in celebrating her own 'Mega-Maturity' she states that 'understanding the grief of passing with clarity gives every moment a monumental heart.'"

Beat Scene

"There's a deft and agile movement in these poems … Born in 1934, Kyger is 80 something now, but on the evidence of On Time she is observant, thoughtful and though provoking as ever. She throws the notion of straight laced Buddhist out the window. Serious but with a mischievous smile."––Eric Jacobs

"Bay Area Poet Joanne Kyger on San Francisco's Literary Culture’
Oct 3, 2015

"One of the most respected Bay Area poets working today, Joanne Kyger is often associated with the Black Mountain poets, San Francisco  Renaissance and Beat Generation. She has written more than 20 books of poetry and prose since the 1960s, the first of which was published after traveling throughout India and Japan with Beat poets Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky and Gary Snyder, her husband at the time."

"Her latest collection, On Time, was published in March 2015 by City Lights Books, the historic Beat-era bookstore and publishing house. Kyger reflects on San Francisco's literary culture and its influence on her work, both then and now."

- Where Traveler

Point Reyes Light

"Kyger's new book, extends her fascination with Bolinas in every season and hour of the day. It explores nighttime, daytime, wintertime, summertime, sunset, sunrise, Good Friday, the Day of the Dead, May Day, summer solstice, Mondays, Sundays, past times, present times and the moment at hand. The collection offers rich pleasures: the arrangement of the words on the page; the sudden, illuminating shifts in consciousness; the intense engagement with contemporary historical events; and the sharp observations of birds, bees, wild Irises and rogue waves in her own backyard and the nearby Pacific Ocean.

The title of the second poem in the volume, 'You Go to War with the Army You Have,' leads one to expect the deadly serious, but there's humor here, as there is elsewhere. There are also jokes, word play and humorous takes on New Age culture and the counterculture Kyger helped to create as a Zen Buddhist, environmentalist and feisty critic of war, the death penalty, the artificial and the inauthentic."–Jonah Raskin

"Joanne Kyger & Bill Berkson @ SFPL"
Apr 19, 2015

Video: Bill Berkson reading from Expect Delays (Coffee House Press) and Joanne Kyger reading from On Time (City Lights Books) for National Poetry Month at the San Francisco Public Library on April 14th, 2015

- Litseen

Poetry Foundation's Harriet Blog

"The poems arrive presented in chronological order, forming a continuous tracking of Kyger's daily business, the regular affairs of her life transcribed into a transformational poetics. Her poems take advantage of what is commonplace, what's often seen as minor, the simpler seeming details of time’s passage ... Kyger weighs the ordinary spectacle with a lighthearted gravity that’s nonetheless profound. Although, as she notes, 'This sounds like a simple improvisation / but actually it’s composed' ('Permission by the Horns') her work is phenomenally focused upon exactly what is at hand."–Patrick James Dunagan

"Arriving Without a Sound: Three Poems on Zen and Its Passage"
Apr 22, 2015

3 poems by Joanne Kyger, appearing in On Time, excerpted on Tricycle Magazine's blog. "Myokyo Dream," “There Are Those Buddhists,” and “Unlimited Growth on a Planet of Finite Size”

- Tricycle