Winner of the 1999 National Book Award for Poetry.
Ais poems provide an absorbing, gritty anatomy of desire you cannot satisfy. In this selection of 18 new poems and 58 from five previous books published from 1973 to 1993, agents of emotional and mental abuse describe horrific journeys into malice and the old fear. Transfigured by desire, speakers (a heroin addict, a paparazzo, a racist) who take extreme measures try to unravel the strands of equivocal motivation. What I always wanted/ was release from my own pain/ but theres only the terrible surrender to it, confesses the police officer who committed suicide before he was to receive a medal for rescuing people after the Oklahoma City bombing. Ais willingness to explore moral values in collision shines into the hearts of those doomed to be crushed. In Ice and Rwanda, she highlights the dignity and suffering of ordinary women, victims of inexplicable violence. Redemptive empathy transforms these unadorned narratives into documents that reveal the intense disintegration of body and soul. Richly rewarding, but not for the squeamish.Frank Allen, Northampton Community Coll., Tannersville, PA