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 seven books of poetry, most recently Manual for Living, Whirlwind,and Burn and Dodge,winner of the AWP Donald Hall Prize in Poetry. She is also the author of a prose memoir titled Hitchcock Blonde and two books of translation: Book of Minutes by Gemma Gorga and the prize-winning Late to the House of Words: Selected Poems by Gemma Gorga. A 2021 National Endowment for the Arts [SA1] Fellowship recipient, Fulbright Scholar, Pushcart Prize winner, and recipient of a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, she lives in New York City, where she teaches poetry workshops and is associate editor of Barrow Street Press.