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What Brings You to Del Amo
Virginia Chase Sutton; Charles Harper Webb, intro.

Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize
Northeastern University Press
2007 • 88 pp. 6 x 9"

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Winner of the 2007 Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize

Virginia Chase Sutton’s What Brings You to Del Amo is, by turns, both terrifying and comic. This collection of poems presents a vigilantly examined life, wringing wry and knowing but never smug composure from private and institutional experiences of mental illness, while also reminding us that the gap between extreme and ordinary states is often an illusion. Introducing the volume, Charles Harper Webb writes, “Sutton’s poems . . . delight with their fresh imagery, vivid perceptions, unusual perspectives, and general liveliness, even when their subject is suffering.”

Sutton welcomes her readers with bright imagery and high energy so that they will eagerly tag along, very glad for the wild ride. Webb states that this book,“in other words, is—to use a term not often applied to poetry—a good read.” The poems,“also explore less frequently chronicled aspects of mental illness, including the comedy, sexual highs/lows, manic elation—‘this glory’— of their bipolar narrator’s life.”Webb concludes, “I applaud the courage and craft required to write this extraordinary collection. I recommend it to you heartily.”

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“Face it: as much as we love to glorify and extol the powers of the imagination, there are some things you have to see up close and personal in order to be able to bring them into the rarified circumference of a poem. These would include death, and even worse, all manner of human degradation and suffering possible. Still, baring witness, no matter how intimate, is no guarantee of good art either. Virginia Chase Sutton manages, no, she illuminates a seamlessness between what is real, and what is barely imaginable in our lives with such precision that you are compelled to bare witness beside her. The poems of What Brings You To Del Amo are relentless in their pursuit of us, and relentless too in their pursuit of the highest level of craft and care.”Bruce Weigl

“ ‘Never construct narrative,’ says a hospital shrink in Virginia Chase Sutton’s riveting suiteof poems, ‘all you get are scraps.’ But the marvel of Sutton’s book is her abilityto order a flashing series of scenes in order to tell, almost recklessly, not without hope, not without tenderness in the face of desolation, a life. A shattered life—but the irony of that doctor’s advice is that these fragments shored up against their speaker’s ruin make, indeed, a coherent, vital testament, tenaciously alive.”Mark Doty

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VIRGINIA CHASE SUTTON’s first collection of poems, Embellishments, was published by in 2003. Her poems have won the Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry at Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award, and they have appeared in the Paris Review, Ploughshares, the Antioch Review, and Quarterly West, among other magazines, journals, and anthologies. She lives in Tempe, Arizona, with her husband and daughters. CHARLES HARPER WEBB is the author of Reading the Water, Liver, Tulip Farms and Leper Colonies, and Hot Popsicles. Winner of the Kate Tufts Award and the Felix Pollak Prize, he teaches at California State University, Long Beach.

Fri, 23 Sep 2011 13:37:52 -0500