A cycle of pathbreaking poems about the history of a family set against the backdrop of the last century.
An Individual History describes the fears, anger, and guilt--personal, familial, societal, political, and historical--that comprise a life. The figure of the speaker's maternal grandmother who was institutionalized for five decades serves as an overriding metaphor for this haunting, bold new work by an essential American poet.
from "An Individual History"
This was before the time of lithium and Zoloft
before mood stabilizers and anxiolytics
and almost all the psychotropic drugs, but not before
which the suicide O'Laughlin called "handcuffs for the
It was before, during, and after the time of atomic
Auschwitz, the Nakba, DDT, and you could take water
find solace in quarantines, participate in shunnings,
or stand at Lourdes among the canes and crutches.
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W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated
June 24, 2012
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