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Winter Numbers: Poems

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  76 ratings  ·  5 reviews
In her seventh volume Marilyn Hacker confronts life and death at the end of our genocidal century, making another extraordinary contribution to the feminist and lesbian canon.
Paperback, 96 pages
Published January 17th 1996 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1994)
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Nina
Winter Numbers is one of my favorite books by Marilyn Hacker. The poems, while discussing topics of loss, are full of delightful rhythm, subtle manipulation of form and meter, and effective use of rhyme.
The lengthy opening poem, “Against Elegies,” talks about loss of friends through AIDS and cancer.
My old friends, my new friends who are old,
or older, sixty, seventy, take pills
with meals or after dinner. Arthritis
scourges them. But irremediable night is
farther away from them; they seem to hold
it
...more
Robyn Groth
I was happy to see Sapphic stanzas, villanelles, sonnets (solo and in sequences), haiku sequences, and I really liked Street Scenes I-V. But, much of the content just bored me. Cancer, old girlfriends - I just wasn't into it.
Tessa
I'm awed at how Marilyn Hacker writes in the intersection of clarity, memory, and the present moment. She writes personal/confessional poems that are clearly about a specific situation but still managed to speak to my (different) situation and have a rich reading either way. I really like how she sneaks in rhymes without being obvious about it. I'm really glad that I read an advice blog that answers some of its questions with poetry recommendations, leading me to Hacker's work.
Andrea
A really lovely collection, with some AMAZING formal verse--the corona is pretty killer, as is the longer sonnet sequence "Cancer Winter." I actually got out my trusty pencil and scanned some of the poems, or marked their rhyme schemes trying to figure out Hacker's patterns. Some of the poems in the second section left me a little cold, but overall, a really strong collection.
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Marilyn Hacker is an American poet, translator, critic, and professor of English.

Her books of poetry include Presentation Piece (1974), which won the National Book Award, Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons (1986), and Going Back to the River (1990). In 2009, Hacker won the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for King of a Hundred Horsemen by Marie Étienne, which also garnered the first R
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More about Marilyn Hacker...
Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons Selected Poems 1965-1990 Desesperanto: Poems 1999-2002 Squares and Courtyards: Poems Names: Poems

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“Lovely and unremarkable, the clutter
of mugs and books, the almost-empty Fig
Newtons box, thick dishes in a big
tin tray, the knife still standing in the butter,
change like the color of river water
in the delicate shift to day. Thin fog
veils the hedges, where a neighbor dog
makes rounds. 'Go to bed. It doesn't matter
about the washing-up. Take this book along.'
Whatever it was we said that night is gone,
framed like a photograph nobody took.
Stretched out on a camp cot with the book,
I think that we will talk all night again,
there, or another where, but I am wrong.”
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