A powerfully gifted psalmist, Sharon Dolin creates in the 'Of Hours' section of her book a singular world of praise and pain. Charged with biblical echoes and reminiscent of the religious poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, her language strains and buckles to give voice to her yearning, as God ('you') appears and disappears, hour by hour.
In this sixth collection by award-winning poet Sharon Dolin, Manual for Living offers three distinct approaches to life, each one riven by flashes of joy and despair, and all conditions in between. With a fresh slant on the Stoic philosopher Epictetus, the title section offers a part-serious, part tongue-in-cheek series of advice poems. An ekphrastic sequence based on the “black paintings” of Goya follows, as a darker meditation on life. The final section, “Of Hours,” is a contemporary sequence of psalms where the possibility for redemption in prayer exists. As in all of her work, Dolin’s lyric voice attends to language and the world equally. Her verbal sleights-of-hand offer readers insights for ways to live. Manual for Living is a wise book: drink deeply from it.
Employing a sparkling linguistic palette, Dolin's poems rejoice, mourn a little, and then laugh at life's reality of not knowing the future, the divine, or one's own purpose.
Manual for Living contains poems that bloom via rhyme and wordplay into complex and disarming self-knowledge and self-instruction. There is comfort and delight in the movement and mind of these poems.
Sharon Dolin is the author of five previous poetry collections: Whirlwind; Burn and Dodge, winner of the Donald Hall Prize in Poetry; Realm of the Possible; Serious Pink; and Heart Work, as well as five poetry chapbooks. She teaches poetry workshops at the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y and Poets House and directs the Center for Book Arts Annual Letterpress Poetry Chapbook Competition in New York City. She also directs and teaches in the international workshop, Writing About Art in Barcelona.