Loose Strife

Violence across history, from Greek myth to modern American serial killers and the Cambodian genocide, animates this disturbing and graphically original fourth effort from Barry (Asylum). She utilizes dual-justified and unusually arrayed text to fit stark scenes where we find someone 'hiding in a space meant/ for buckets and rags as// next door the soldiers/ drag away a young boy,' or, in a modified ghazal, a witness at Golgotha watching 'a man nailed like/ a bloody flag to two pieces of/ wood.' Taking in ecological as well as human horror, falling gingko pods remind Barry of failing satellites, 'all of which some day will come tumbling back.' In a series of poems that belong together despite their diverse scenes, she tries 'to describe the unimaginable/ in a time and a place when sadly everything is imaginable.' Those vivid pictures, and their self-consciousness about what it means to narrate extremities, perhaps benefit from the book's origin in a collaboration between Barry and visual artist Michael Velliquette. And yet the book stands up, and stands out, on its own. Barry risks the lurid, and the knowing, but comes out more like a prophet, overwhelmed-sometimes sublimely so-by the first- and second-hand truths she must convey.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

In poems initially inspired by Aeschylus’ fifth-century B.C. trilogy “The Oresteia,” which chronicles the fall of the House of Atreides, Loose Strife investigates the classical sense of loose strife, namely “to loose battle” or “sow chaos,” a concept which is still very much with us more than twenty-five hundred years later.

72 Pages, 6 x 9 in.

January, 2015

isbn : 9780822963295

about the author

Quan Barry

Quan Barry is the author of three previous poetry collections: Asylum, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize; Controvertibles; and Water Puppets, winner of the Donald Hall Prize in Poetry. She is also the author of the novel She Weeps Each Time You’re Born. Barry has received two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in both poetry and fiction. She is professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Quan Barry