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David KirbyBrenda 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