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The Lord and the General Din of the World
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The confessional, lyric poems in Mead's stark, commanding first collection were selected by Philip Levine for the 1995 Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry. Mead combines flinty honesty with an organic intellect (as when she arches the work of Bach and Van Gogh over transcendent moments in daily life). She employs taut, colloquial language and firmly places her personal history against a searching, almost existential understanding of the world-even at its most difficult. Many of these powerful, subtle poems concern her father's heroin addiction, focusing on how that life changes, or skews, what it means to be human. Mead pinpoints, and gives form to, tenuous, seemingly nameless emotions ("Somewhere there should be a place/ the exact shape of my emptiness-/ there should be a place/ responsible for taking one back"). That precision gives her poetry, though often spawned of rough subject-matter (addiction, abuse, suicide and profound isolation), the power of expertly cut gems. (June)

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