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The Game of Boxes

Author 1
Catherine Barnett
Everyone asks us what we're afraid of
but children aren't supposed to say.
We could put loneliness on the list.
We could put the list on the list, its infinity.
We could put infinity down.
—from “Fields of No One to Ask”   In Catherine Barnett's The Game of Boxes, love stutters its way in and out of both family and erotic bonds. Whittled down to song and fragments of story, these poems teeter at the edge of dread. A gang of unchaperoned children, grappling with blame and forgiveness, speak with tenderness and disdain about “the mothers” and “the fathers,” absent figures they seek in “the faces of clouds” and in the cars that pass by. Other poems investigate the force of maternal love and its at-times misguided ferocities. The final poem, a long sequence of nocturnes, eschews almost everything but the ghostly erotic. These are bodies at the edge of experience, watchful and defamiliarized.

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Winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets

About the Author

Catherine  Barnett
Credit: Jacqueline Mia Foster
Catherine Barnett is the author of three poetry collections, Human Hours, Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced and The Game of Boxes, winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets. Her honors include a Whiting Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is a member of the core faculty of New York University's Creative Writing Program, a Distinguished Lecturer at Hunter College, and an independent editor in New York City.
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  • Winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets
  • “In skillfully wrought poems, Barnett’s language can be as soft as it is jarring; this is language that ‘shivers.’ . . . Highly recommended.”—Library Journal
  • “Short and tight, all of Barnett's poems are purposeful—and often powerful. The Game of Boxes is a book the reader will want to return to after the first perusal.—Shelf Awareness for Readers
  • "These lucid, nuanced poems implore us to 'marvel at the visible'. . . . In the process, Barnett reveals the happiness that exists despite—and alongside—the inevitability of loss."—


This book is made possible, in part, through the Jerome Foundation, which supports new works by emerging artists in New York City and Minnesota, and by the generosity of Graywolf Press donors like you.
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