The Insistence of Beauty

The Insistence of Beauty Cover

The Insistence of Beauty


By Stephen Dunn

W. W. Norton & Company, Paperback, 9780393327434, 89pp.

Publication Date: January 1, 2006

"Beauty isn't nice. Beauty isn't fair;" So, in part, states an epigraph for this stunning new collection, his thirteenth, by the Pulitzer Prize winner for Poetry (2000). First traversing betrayal and loss, Stephen Dunn then moves to speak of new love, with its attendant pleasures and questioning. The title poem, perhaps emblematic of the book as a whole, is evocative of beauty's often surprising manifestations even in the light of tragedy; as on that terrible day "when those silver planes came out of the perfect blue." Because beauty jars us, makes us look twice, it is as startling as a good poem, and as insistent. Fortunately, it is never too late to search for the right words for what we've seen, felt, endured. With quiet authority Dunn enacts what it feels like to be a particular man at a particular juncture of his life; struggling not to deny, but to name, then rename.