Human Dark with Sugar

Human Dark with Sugar

5.0 1
by Brenda Shaughnessy

View All Available Formats & Editions

Winner of the 2007 James Laughlin Award as the best second book published in the United States.See more details below


Winner of the 2007 James Laughlin Award as the best second book published in the United States.

Editorial Reviews

David Kirby
Brenda Shaughnessy's poems bristle with imperatives: confuse me, spoon-feed me, stop the madness, decide. There are more direct orders in her first few pages than in six weeks of boot camp. Only Shaughnessy's kidding. Or she is and she isn't. If you just want to boss people around, you're a control freak, but if you can joke about it, then your bossiness is leavened by a yeast that's all too infrequent in contemporary poetry, that of humor. A wisecrack here and there can give life to a deadly serious agenda; a little wit adds dimension to a topic limited by its own darkness. And there isn't a single poem in Human Dark With Sugar that isn't funny…As I read Shaughnessy's poems, I can't help hearing not only her poetic ancestors but Abbott and Costello as well: not the film bumblers being chased by Frankenstein but the double-talkers whose "Who's on First?" routine is often imitated, never duplicated. People are funny. Words are funnier. And poems, when they're at their smartest and best-made, are funniest of all.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

The poems in Shaughnessy's acclaimed debut, Interior with Sudden Joy(1999), earned her comparisons to Sylvia Plath for their sexual frankness, tight-to-bursting compression and musical invention. Her second collection, winner of the Academy of American Poets' James Laughlin Award, brings a greater emotional bandwidth and stylistic suppleness to the task of unmasking "the hoax of boundlessness" in life and in love, "making and making to replace the dreaming at last." The book's three sections contain nine, 11 and 10 poems, respectively, and that off-kilter triangulation-from the terse, not-quite-tongue-in-cheek self-dismissal of the first heading, "Anodyne," to the suggestion of galactic exploration and recording in the last, "Astrolabe"-proves the right three-cornered lens for looking into the darkest corners of human relationships, including their embodiment: "honeyed, self-twinned, fearless,/ a wineskin emptying/ into a singing stranger." Most are in the second person, who is sometimes the speaker and sometime not; most often, the addressee is a love or lover, who changes, and who is exhorted, berated, courted, rejected, fucked, accepted, lectured, soothed, teased and, always, loved: "I am yours. I am still I." In its worried acceptance of contradiction, its absolute refusal of sentimentality and its acute awareness of time's "scarce infinity," this is a brilliant, beautiful and essential continuation of the metaphysical verse tradition. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Seriously playful, sexy, sharp-edged, and absolutely commanding throughout, Shaughnessy's second collection-a James Laughlin Award winner-manages to take apart the world as we know it and put it back together in strikingly insightful ways. Here you'll meet an "I" boldly ready to take on the world and just itching to give "You" some smart directives. So listen up. (LJ3/15/08)

—Barbara Hoffert

Read More

Product Details

Copper Canyon Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.30(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >