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A unique collection of poetry so powerful that 100 grown men—bestselling authors, poets laureate, and other eminent figures from the arts, sciences, and politics—have been moved to tears. Here they deliver touching and insightful personal introductions to a range of beloved poems.

Grown men don’t cry.

But in this fascinating anthology, one hundred men—distinguished in literature and film, science and architecture, theater and human rights—confess to being moved to tears by poems that continue to haunt them. Representing twenty nationalities and ranging in age from their early 20s to their late 80s, the majority are public figures not prone to crying. Here they admit to breaking down when ambushed by great art, often in words as powerful as the poems themselves.

Their selections include classics by visionaries such as Walt Whitman, W.H Auden, and Philip Larkin, as well as contemporary works by masters including Billy Collins, Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, and poets who span the globe from Pablo Neruda to Rabindranath Tagore.

Seventy-five percent of the selected poems were written in the twentieth century, with more than a dozen by women including Mary Oliver, Elizabeth Bishop, and Gwendolyn Brooks. Their themes range from love in its many guises, through mortality and loss, to the beauty and variety of nature. Three men have suffered the pain of losing a child; others are moved to tears by the exquisite way a poet captures, in Alexander Pope’s famous phrase, “what oft was thought, but ne’er so well express’d.

From J. J. Abrams to John le Carré, Salman Rushdie to Jonathan Franzen, Daniel Radcliffe to Nick Cave, Billy Collins to Stephen Fry, Stanley Tucci to Colin Firth, and Seamus Heaney to Christopher Hitchens, this collection delivers private insight into the souls of men whose writing, acting, and thinking are admired around the world.

About the Author


Anthony Holden is an award-winning journalist who has published more than thirty books, including He Played For His Wife…And Other Stories and biographies of Laurence Olivier, Tchaikovsky, and Shakespeare. He has published translations of opera, ancient Greek plays, and poetry. He was director of European Film and Television at Exclusive Media, where he helped relaunch Britain’s most famous film production label, Hammer. Anthony Holden lives in London.

Ben Holden is a writer and film producer. He lives in London and studied English at Merton College, Oxford. With his father Anthony, Ben edited the bestselling Poems That Make Grown Men Cry and Poems That Make Grown Women Cry.

Praise For…


“The Holdens remind us that you don't have to be an academic or a postgraduate in creative writing to be moved by verse…I defy anyone not to enjoy the Holdens' book: It's plain fun.”

"Everyone who reads this collection will be roused: disturbed by the pain, exalted in the zest for joy given by poets."
— Nadine Gordimer

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry is an anthology of some of the most emotive lines in literature chosen by 100 famous and admired men, ranging from Daniel Radcliffe to Nick Cave, John le Carré and Jonathan Franzen.”

“This collection is about the emotional power of art, and the Holdens cast aside any accusations of sentimentality or mawkishness. Anyone who reads Poems That Make Grown Men Cry will be roused, disturbed and exalted by the poems selected.”

“I most enjoyed the brief introduction each contributor gave their selected poem. The stories behind the poems that moved them to tears were often just as emotional and passionate… I would recommend this as a gift to the poetry-lover in your life - whether they're a man or a woman.”

“Yes, this book will make an ideal gift for the men in your life, particularly those who shudder at the very thought of reading poems. And, of course, as Nadine Gordimer’s and my personal examples prove, it can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of gender or nationality. After all, that is the power of poetry: how it can speak to each one of us individually and intimately.”


Product Details
ISBN: 9781476712772
ISBN-10: 1476712778
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: April 1st, 2014
Pages: 336
Language: English

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry: 100 Men on the Words That Move Them (Hardcover)