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Stephen Dunn is the author of seventeen poetry collections, including What Goes On: New and Selected Poems 1995-2009 and, most recently, Here and Now. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his collection Different Hours. He has also been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and has received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. A Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Richard Stockton College, he lives in Frostburg, Maryland, with his wife, the writer Barbara Hurd.
This substantial volume brings together two decades' worth of selections from Dunn's eight previous collections (most recently, Landscape at the End of the Century , LJ 3/15/91) and 16 new poems, the most moving of which is ``The Snowmass Cycle.'' In that eight-part work, originally published in Poetry , the poet muses on the task he's set for himself and brilliantly managed, over the years, to fulfill: ``Give me a new mouth and I'll be/ a guardian against forgetfulness . . . I want to find the cool, precise language/ for how passion gives rise to passion.'' Recommended for most collections.-- David Sowd, Formerly with Stark Cty. District Lib., Canton, Ohio
``I love abstractions, I love / to give them a nouny place to live, / a firm seat in the balcony / of ideas, while music plays.'' Dunn ( Landscape at the End of the Century ) doesn't lapse from the human in his affection for ideas or in his playful working with them; his poetry can read like a conversation held within the generous confines of an unusually abundant self. He and his ideas are good company for us. Part of the persuasion is accomplished with images: in ``Nova Scotia,'' jellyfish ``washed up / like small blue parachutes''; in ``The Snow Leopard'' a girl is ``half rockette'' and ``half American flag.'' But so much depends upon the billowing up and the resting of Dunn's thoughts, on their sheer movement. That's what forms and opens the poems, makes reading them seem like hobnobbing with someone who is both more observant and more precise than you could have been. We may hardly notice the skill of the movement, how fluent the monologue, but it marks us again and again: ``Last night Joan Sutherland was nuancing / the stratosphere on my fine-tuned tape deck, / and there was my dog Buster with a flea rash, / his head in his privates. Even for Buster /this was something like happiness.'' The collection includes work from eight past books and 16 new poems. (Apr.)
"Dunn comes to recognize the tedium of getting what you want . . . and the naturalness of violence. But he never loses his edge, his glint. . . . Dunn may be incorrect, but he is always right, and always ravishingly articulate." -- Booklist