Babel

Hamby's poems resemble spells, words cascading like Flora's flowers. The result in a break-necking pace, and it is almost miraculous that this collection does not spin out of control. . . . These poems are tender, humble, and often humorous. . . . This collection does pack a punch.
ForeWord Magazine
Winner of the 2003 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry

Babel features more of the rhetorical acrobatics that fueled Barbara Hamby's earlier work. These whirlwinds of words and sounds form vistas, images, and scenes that are at once unique and immediately recognizable.

In poems such as “Six, Sex, Say,” she displays a linguistic bravado that moves effortlessly through translations, cognates, and homonyms. This love of words permeates the poems, from the husband wooing his future wife “with a barrage of words so cunningly fluent, / so linguistically adroit” in “Flesh, Bone, and Red,” to the alphabetic sampler woven from memory and love in “Ode on My Mother's Handwriting.”

Hamby's poems drift across histories and continents, from early writing and culture in Mesopotamia through the motion-picture heaven that seems so much like Paris, to odes on such thoroughly American subjects as hardware stores, bubblegum, barbecue, and sharp-tongued cocktail waitresses giving mandatory pre-date quizzes to lawyers and “orangutans in the guise of men.” As Booklist noted in reviewing her previous collection, Hamby's poems “are tsunamis carrying you far out to sea and then back to shore giddy and glad to be alive.”

88 Pages, 6 x 9 in.

November, 2004

isbn : 9780822958598

about the author

Barbara Hamby

Barbara Hamby is the author of six books of poems, including On the Street of Divine Love: New and Selected Poems, Babel, and All-Night Lingo Tango. She was a 2010 Guggenheim fellow in Poetry and her book of short stories, Lester Higata’s 20th Century, won the 2010 Iowa Short Fiction Award. Her poems have appeared in many magazines, including the New Yorker, Poetry, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and Yale Review. She has also edited an anthology of poems, Seriously Funny, with her husband David Kirby. She teaches at Florida State University where she is Distinguished University Scholar.

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Barbara Hamby