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Book Title

Solutions for the Problem of Bodies in Space

Author 1
Catherine Barnett
Poem Excerpt
If you too awaken between
3:00 and 5:00 to stare into the abyss where flies gather,
call me, I’ll talk you through until morning. If you sign
the release form, I can cite you in the study.
Release, yes, that’s the term I was looking for.
Shake your nightclothes out well.
The human condition is made of moisture and heat.
So far, my research is very ad hoc, like dreaming.

—from “How to Prepare”
The loneliness that collects in mirrors and faces—at bedside vigils and in city streets—quickens Catherine Barnett’s metaphysical poems, which are like speculative prescriptions for this common human experience. Here loneliness is filled with belonging, which is in turn filled with loneliness, each state suffused and emptied by the other. Barnett’s fourth collection is part manifesto, part how-to manual, part apologia: a guide to the homeopathic dangers and healing powers of an emotion so charged with eros, humor, and elusive beauty it becomes a companion both desired and eschewed, necessary and illuminating.

Solutions for the Problem of Bodies in Space is never far from grief or a comedy of bewilderment, inadequacy, hope. Entering Barnett’s world is a little like entering an electrically charged cloud, and the prospect of either falling or getting caught in a storm brings vertiginous and unpredictable pleasures. Bristling with uncanny intelligence, the poems are sometimes quiet elegies, sometimes meditations on art, love, and the failures of love that so often define love. Barnett might be called a realist—her style is radiantly exact—yet somehow she is a guide both into and out of the existential void. She has written a tender, dazzling collection of estrangement and intimacy.

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Catherine Barnett's new poems move beautifully and unpredictably through loneliness, comedy, intellect, and love

About the Author

Catherine  Barnett
Credit: Credit: Farah Al Qasimi and Res
Catherine Barnett is the author of four poetry collections, including Solutions for the Problem of Bodies in Space, Human Hours, winner of the Believer Book Award, and The Game of Boxes, winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets. She lives in New York City.
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Upcoming Events

Catherine Barnett and Claudia Rankine reading at NYU Writers House

Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House in New York, NYview map
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Catherine Barnett reading with Danielle Chapman at Blacksmith House

Blacksmith House in Cambridge, MAview map
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  • “Barnett's fourth collection applies a quirky eye and sparkling intelligence to the topic of loneliness.”—The New York Times Book Review
  • “The stunning latest from Barnett (Human Hours) blends the witty and the philosophical to offer a study in 'restricted fragile materials,' or the bewildering condition of being alive. Urbane, perceptive, and starkly humane, these are poems of quiet alarm, at once companionable and singular.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “There is a devastating down-to-earth marriage of wit and elegy in Barnett’s transcendent fourth collection, which opens in childhood. . . .”—Rebecca Morgan Frank, Literary Hub
  • “Through poems of startling clarity and delicate humor, Solutions for the Problem of Bodies in Space grapples with the ontological absurdity of our large-scale and everyday failures, finding space to elegize and celebrate both what we can and cannot control.”—James Ciano, Los Angeles Review of Books
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