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Cover for Water Puppets (Pitt Poetry Series)

Water Puppets (Pitt Poetry Series)

Quan Barry


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Winner of the 2010 Donald Hall Prize in Poetry

In her third poetry collection, Quan Barry explores the universal image of war as evidenced in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as Vietnam, the country of her birth. In the long poem “meditations” Barry examines her own guilt in initially supporting the invasion of Iraq. Throughout the manuscript she investigates war and its aftermath by negotiating between geographically disparate landscapes—from the genocide in the Congo—to a series of pros poem “snapshots” of modern day Vietnam. Despite the gravity of war, Barry also turns her signature lyricism to other topics such as the beauty of Peru or the paintings of Ana Fernandez.

Praise For Water Puppets (Pitt Poetry Series)

“These poems impress with the enormous and energetic distances they travel. More impressive, however, is the focus they show on arrival. We are everywhere, but everywhere is distinctly somewhere—and often dangerous. These words are the essence of displacement. Yet these poems do not stop there, are not so easy on themselves, speaking in a clear voice for the new as well as the past. They relentlessly address their—and our—changing and unchanging world against the loose backdrop of Vietnamese water puppet theater, whose imaginative traditions show themselves in repeatedly memorable moments. These poems may move on water, but their voices do not falter.”
—Alberto Álvaro Ríos

“Some will find Barry’s subjects—genocidal war, pornography, the slaughter of Thanksgiving turkeys—disconcerting, but she treats them with a candor, persistence, and tonal control that aims to question and comprehend rather than simply indict or dismiss. An engrossing collection.”
—Library Journal

“What I appreciate about Barry is that she’s always pushing herself poetically to try different forms. . . . Another powerful work by Barry.”
—Asian American Literature

University of Pittsburgh Press, 9780822961604, 88pp.

Publication Date: August 28, 2011

About the Author

Quan Barry is the author of two previous poetry collections: Asylum and Controvertibles. She is professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she directs the MFA program in creative writing.