Alphabet of Desire

Alphabet of Desire

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by Barbara Hamby
     
 

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In this sublime and imposing book of poetry, Barbara Hamby races through the circuitous regions of Heaven and Hell, desire and love, giving shape and significance to the strange and the familiar. Her book ignites with a proclamation, "In the beginning was the word, fanning out into syllables, like a deck of cards on a table in Vegas, lovely leafy parts fluttering into

Overview

In this sublime and imposing book of poetry, Barbara Hamby races through the circuitous regions of Heaven and Hell, desire and love, giving shape and significance to the strange and the familiar. Her book ignites with a proclamation, "In the beginning was the word, fanning out into syllables, like a deck of cards on a table in Vegas, lovely leafy parts fluttering into atoms and cells, genus and phylum, nouns and verbs; " an easy metaphor for her intoxicating linguistic machinations.

Hamby's roaming, inquisitive mind reels in the reader, "I'm persuaded the day will come when I'll lie static as a falcon in a hunter's sack, fragments of iron studding my reckless breast." Not limited to the self-referential, Hamby playfully references historic and literary personae, taking stabs at Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the Bible and Casanova. "Who wouldn't, " she challenges us, "give anything for the voice of an angel and wings to fly above the rough dirt of birth?"

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Hambly's first collection, Delirium (Univ. of North Texas, 1995), won the 1994 Vassar Miller prize, the 1996 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and the Poetry Society of America's Norma Farber First Book Award, and it's no surprise that this second collection has garnered yet another prize: the 1999 NYU Press Prize for Poetry. Hambly's honest, colloquial language engenders trust in her depiction of an abstract, intercontinental, contemporary world. Lusty, unself-conscious, musical, and fresh, these poems are about the "undetonated chaos packed tight inside everyone" as we absorb the information daily cast down on us from satellites overhead. Hambly's reference range from Louis Malle to Daffy Duck, and she incorporates satire and wit into a sprawling body of poems that sing. Highly recommended.--Ann K. van Buren, New York Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Donna Seamaan
Hamby's poems are tsunamis carrying you far out to sea and then back to shore giddy and glad to be alive. She roars around the parabola of the time-space continuum, leaping between the past, both ancient and within memory, and the present, then circles the globe all within a single high-octane couplet. Hamby strings words and worlds together with the gravity-defying momentum of a high-flying dancer or a whirling dervish, traveling to Italy, India, St. Louis, the Amazon, Sante Fe, and Hawaii in long zestful exhalations. She rumbas and stomps and shakes her finger in your face as she writes of war and sex, love and hunger, insomnia, drunkenness, the movies, family, the soul, art, and the devil. Her commentary is hilarious. The sudden moments of stillness found unexpectedly within the rush of her rants are radiant and spellbinding, and the clash between her velocity and her specificity creates a sizzling current of electricity that runs through every dashing, piquant, and diva-sung line.
Booklist
Kirkus Reviews
The second collection by the editor of the Apalachee Review is a prizewinner like the first: Delirium (1994) won the Vassar Miller award, and now this ample new volume has been selected for NYU•s annual prize. Everything about it is excessive: the lines run on, the poems race all over the place, the sensibility embraces all things, and there are just too many poems. Actually, there•s lots of poetry here, but few distinctly individual poems; Hamby seldom varies her expressive style, which, at its best, results in energetic, jazzy rhythms, a •bebop / babble,• that, however, the writer fails to sustain throughout this exhausting book. The greater the risks she takes, the greater her flops: •With Sonya,• a poem about movie-going, digresses on Roman Polanski (•he shouldn•t fuck thirteen-year-old girls•), and poems addressing world-historical events unintentionally recall Mel Brooks, especially the tasteless •Springtime for Hitler• bit in •Reichsführer Blues,• a way-too casual and self-assured poem about the Holocaust and human disaster: •Heave ho, heave ho, it•s off to

From the Publisher
"Hamby's poems are tsunamis carrying you far out to sea and then back to shore giddy and glad to be alive. She roars around the parabola of the time-space continuum, leaping between the past, both ancient and within memory, and the present, then circles the globe all within a single high-octane couplet. Hamby strings words and worlds together with the gravity-defying momentum of a high-flying dancer or a whirling dervish, traveling to Italy, India, St. Louis, the Amazon, Sante Fe, and Hawaii in long zestful exhalations. She rumbas and stomps and shakes her finger in your face as she writes of war and sex, love and hunger, insomnia, drunkenness, the movies, family, the soul, art, and the devil. Her commentary is hilarious. The sudden moments of stillness found unexpectedly within the rush of her rants are radiant and spellbinding, and the clash between her velocity and her specificity creates a sizzling current of electricity that runs through every dashing, piquant, and diva-sung line."

-Donna Seaman,Booklist

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781932535105
Publisher:
Orchises Press
Publication date:
01/28/2006
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
103

What People are saying about this

Richard Howard
It is Europe still which releases Hamby's voluble imagination from the thrall of a merely costive knowledge....In this noble second book she bends her stoic glee to tragic angles, coming a lot closer now to the true-blue lacrimae rerum note.
From the Publisher

"Hamby's poems are tsunamis carrying you far out to sea and then back to shore giddy and glad to be alive. She roars around the parabola of the time-space continuum, leaping between the past, both ancient and within memory, and the present, then circles the globe all within a single high-octane couplet. Hamby strings words and worlds together with the gravity-defying momentum of a high-flying dancer or a whirling dervish, traveling to Italy, India, St. Louis, the Amazon, Sante Fe, and Hawaii in long zestful exhalations. She rumbas and stomps and shakes her finger in your face as she writes of war and sex, love and hunger, insomnia, drunkenness, the movies, family, the soul, art, and the devil. Her commentary is hilarious. The sudden moments of stillness found unexpectedly within the rush of her rants are radiant and spellbinding, and the clash between her velocity and her specificity creates a sizzling current of electricity that runs through every dashing, piquant, and diva-sung line."

-Donna Seaman,Booklist

Meet the Author

Barbara Hamby has been published in many literary magazines and is the editor of Apalachee Quarterly and director of Apalachee Press. Her first published collection, Delirium, won the 1994 Vassar Miller Prize, the 1996 Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Poetry Society of America's Norma Farber First Book Award.

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The Alphabet of Desire 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Barabra is inspiring. Her use of food metaphors combined with everyday occurances will spark the interest of any reader. She writes on subjects that everyone can relate to. It is so extremely easy to get lost in her poems. This book will interest even the most skeptical poetry reader and change their mind about poetry forever.