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Book Title

The Last Two Seconds

Author 1
Mary Jo Bang
Poem Excerpt
We were told that the cloud cover was a blanket
about to settle into the shape of the present
which, if we wanted to imagine it
as a person, would undoubtedly look startled—
as after a verbal berating
or in advance of a light pistol whipping.
The camera came and went, came and went,
like a masked man trying to light a too-damp fuse.
The crew was acting like a litter of mimics
trying to make a killing.
Anything to fill the vacuum of time.
—from “Filming the Doomsday Clock”
The Last Two Seconds is an astonishing confrontation with time—our experience of it as measured out by our perceptions, our lives, and our machines. In these poems, full of vivid imagery and imaginative logic, Mary Jo Bang captures the difficulties inherent in being human in the twenty-first century, when we set our watches by nuclear disasters, species collapse, pollution, mounting inequalities, warring nations, and our own mortality. This is brilliant and profound work by an essential poet of our time.

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The eagerly awaited new poetry collection by Mary Jo Bang, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

About the Author

Mary Jo  Bang
Credit: Carly Ann Faye

Mary Jo Bang has published eight poetry collections, including A Doll for Throwing and Elegy, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and new translations of Dante’s Inferno and Purgatorio. She teaches at Washington University in Saint Louis.

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  • The Last Two Seconds is an American masterpiece, revealing an extraordinary vision of this strange and disastrous time in which we live.”Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
  • “Although Eliot asserted that the world ends not with a bang but a whimper, this particular way of shoring an era’s fragments against emotional ruin . . . begins and ends with Bang.”American Poets
  • “More playful, interesting, and intellectually alive than the vast majority of poetry written this year, Mary Jo Bang’s collection . . . is also among the funniest and most serious.”Flavorwire
  • “Attentive readers who delve into Bang’s sharply articulated vision will find them unforgiving indeed—and those same readers will praise her to the skies.”Publishers Weekly, starred review
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