AUTHOR: Brenda Shaughnessy
PUBLISHER: Copper Canyon Press
AWARDS: James Laughlin Award (2007), National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee for Poetry (2008)
Human Dark with Sugar
by Brenda Shaughnessy
In her second book, winner of the prestigious James Laughlin Award, Brenda Shaughnessy taps into themes that have inspired era after era of poets. Love. Sex. Pain. The heavens. The loss of time. The weird miracle of perception. Part confessional, part New York School, and part just plain lover of the English language, Shaughnessy distills the big questions into sharp rhythms and alluring lyrics. “You’re a tool, moon. / Now, noon. There’s a hero.”
Master of diverse dictions, she dwells here on quirky words, mouthfuls of consonance and assonance—anodyne, astrolabe, alizarin—then catches her readers up short with a string of powerful monosyllables. “I’ll take / a year of that. Just give it back to me.” In addition to its verbal play, Human Dark With Sugar demonstrates the poet’s ease in a variety of genres, from “Three Sorries” (in which the speaker concludes, “I’m not sorry. Not sorry at all”), to a sequence of prose poems on a lover’s body, to the discussion of a disturbing dream. In this caffeine jolt of a book, Shaughnessy confirms her status as a poet of intoxicating lines, pointed, poignant comments on love, and compelling abstract images —not the least of which is human dark with sugar.
Poet Brenda Shaughnessy identifies as bisexual.
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