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By Barbara Hamby

Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 1994.

Barbara Hamby makes her poems out of jokes, Italian words, fees from saints and philosophers, references to nutrients eaten and wines under the influence of alcohol. In a fluid, compelling voice, she units a level, peoples it with actual and imagined characters, spins them into dizzying movement, after which makes every little thing disappear as with a wave of a conjurer's wand, leaving the reader to ask yourself, “Did that ensue, or did I dream it?” One leaves her poetry the way in which one leaves a depressing theater on a July afternoon, confident that the normal passions particularly will not do—they have to be higher, as huge as they're in those poems.

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