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Barely Composed

Poems

Alice Fulton (Author, Cornell University)

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"Tackles enduring topics—time, death, love—with a mixture of elegance and agony. . . . All of this blossoms into a dark beauty that makes these poems glisten."—Washington Post

Alice Fulton reimagines the great lyric subjects—time, death, love—and imbues them with fresh urgency and depth. Barely Composed unveils the emotional devastations that follow trauma or grief—extreme states that threaten psyche and language with disintegration. With rare originality, the poems illuminate the deepest suffering and its aftermath of hypervigilance and numbness, the "formal feeling" described by Emily Dickinson.

Elegies contemplate temporal mysteries—the brief span of human/animal life, the nearly eternal existence of stars and nuclear fuel, the enduring presence of the arts—and offer unsparing glimpses of personal loss and cultural suppressions of truth. Under the duress of silencing, whether chosen or imposed, language warps into something uncanny, rich, and profoundly moving. Various forms of inscription—coloring book to redacted document—enact the combustible power of the unsaid.

Though "anguish is the universal language," there also is joy in the reciprocity of gifts and creativity, intellect and intimacy. Gorgeous vintage rhetorics merge with incandescent contemporary registers, and this recombinant linguistic mix gives rise to poems of disarming power. Visionaries—truth tellers, revelators, beholders—offer testimony as beautiful as it is unsettling.

Shimmering with the "good strangeness of poetry," Barely Composed bears witness to love’s complexities and the fragility of existence. In the midst of cruelty, a world in which “the pound is by the petting zoo,” Fulton’s poems embrace the inextinguishable search for goodness, compassion, and "the principles of tranquility."

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • August 2016
  • ISBN 978-0-393-35283-2
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 112 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverBarely Composed: Poems

    Hardcover

Endorsements & Reviews

“A remarkable, courageous, almost preternatural poetic sensibility.” — Los Angeles Review of Books

“Fulton removes language from its standard literary and idiomatic proprieties… Her varied techniques are particularly appealing…an alchemy of language and the world beyond the authentic representation of the personal. But she can do expressive representation too.” — Daisy Fried, New York Times Book Review

“Elegant and experimental at once, committed to operating at the freshest tip of the mind, these poems pry through our own readerly boundaries.” — Poetry International

“Fulton sounds at home in the unknown, her music rising like wind whistling between all these ‘finite things.’ You may not mind getting lost with such a guide.” — Michael Andor Brodeur, Boston Globe

“At times musical, yes, but at other times a weapon, or a stick to prod open the underbelly of some dark dream…sonorous, rich, and full of surprises.” — Casey Patrick, Rumpus

Also by Alice Fulton All

  1. Book CoverCascade Experiment: Selected Poems

    Paperback

  2. Book CoverFelt: Poems

    Paperback

  3. Book CoverThe Nightingales of Troy

    Paperback

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