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Lines of Defenseby Stephen Dunn
Synopses & Reviews
In his seventeenth collection of poetry, Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Dunn confronts the lines we fight against and the ones we draw for ourselves. poignantly captures the absurdities of modern life, expectations derailed, the lived life juxtaposed to the imagined life, and the defenses we don to make do. The poems in are wry and elegiac, precisely observed and wide-reaching. As with the best of Dunn's work, they take stock of the quotidian aspects of life, of the essential comedy of getting through the day: finding a lost cat; not being invited to a party; taking a granddaughter to a carnival. The lines of defense are the lines of the verse itself, as poetry forms a stronghold against mortality. This essential volume showcases a poet writing at the height of his powers.
"In his 17th collection, Pulitzer-winner Dunn (Different Hours) navigates the social and moral boundaries of middle-class life with a weary eye and penchant for giving wavering advice. His distance from youth, when 'a leather jacket helped for some,/ and for others a neckline that promised/ a descent into a dreamland,' is sharply highlighted, contrasting with a present when 'every day, if I could,/ I'd oppose history by altering one detail.' Echoes of love affairs, professional and personal jousts, and a recurring uncertainty as to the rightness of one's path inform a stark ambiguity in the speaker's relationship to his own life's story. Dunn has a sorrowful take on mortality, and he rails against the life's cruelties: 'My brother is talking about his ice maker/ because a man can't talk about his lymphoma/ and chemo every minute of the day.' What Dunn ultimately bets big on (in addition to the Jets-Patriots game), is the ability of language to recount, heal, and even recreate: 'Only when his son spoke,/ measuring with precise, slow-/ to-arrive language the father/ he had lost, did something in me move./ There was my brother restored,/ abstracted, made of words now.' (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"[Stephen Dunn] has taken his place among our major, indispensable poets."--
About the Author
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.
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