Between Angels


"Between Angels affirms what we are capable of in our best moments—grace, tenderness, love—while acknowledging that the human heart can be merciless. It's a book of great breadth."—Gregory Djanikian, Philadelphia Inquirer

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Between Angels

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"Between Angels affirms what we are capable of in our best moments—grace, tenderness, love—while acknowledging that the human heart can be merciless. It's a book of great breadth."—Gregory Djanikian, Philadelphia Inquirer

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Editorial Reviews

Stephen Dobyns - New York Times Book Review
“Stephen Dunn is one of the strongest voices of his generation. His poems wonderfully encapsulate daily experience. They are modest without being small. They include us without being patronizing. They are rich in their craft without being decorative. Not only does one come to care deeply about them, but they are a pleasure to read.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
His seventh collection confirms Dunn ( Local Time ) as a metaphysical poet of the quotidian, a secular George Herbert. Like earlier metaphysicals, he dwells on the curious ambivalence harbored in abstractions; discursive poems like ``Tenderness,'' ``Kindness,'' ``Forgiveness'' and ``Happiness'' render timeworn concepts dramatically convincing, manifesting Dunn's belief that ``abstractions are just abstract/until they have an ache in them.'' Happiness is pictured ``with its perfect bridge above / the crocodiles, / and its doors forever open,'' loneliness as a ``contorted, pocked, terribly ugly man / shopping in the 24-hour supermarket.'' True to the title, angels descend into the best poems ``like invisible friends / you could count on''; they mediate the uneasy gap between our desires and reality, guarding human frailty ``among the bittersweet / efforts of people to connect, / make sense, endure.'' Only rarely do the poet's epigrammatic tercets and crisp stanzas falter into affected conceits and flat platitudes. An accessible blend of the lyrical and literal, Dunn's poetry discovers a world worth his subtle praises amid the difficulties of daily life. (May)
Library Journal
Despite the Rilkean overtones of its title, Dunn's sixth collection remains rooted in the everyday life of average Americans struggling for integrity and purpose within a maze of shopping malls and billboards. Recognition's landmines can explode at the slightest social contact ``Kindness of any kind shames me,/ makes me remember/ what I haven't done or been'' and the newspaper brings nothing but guilt ``there's no sleeping with what/ you know''. By now Dunn's plain-spoken style and rueful wit have become his trademarks, and for all their conversational naturalness seem no less ``arranged for effect.'' As with his other works, some pruning might have helped, but Dunn hits the bull's eyes in our psyches so accurately and often we are too disarmed to notice.-- Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393306583
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/28/1990
  • Pages: 111
  • Sales rank: 782,990
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet 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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