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Lines of Defense: Poems

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  83 ratings  ·  20 reviews
In his seventeenth collection of poetry, Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Dunn confronts the lines we fight against and the ones we draw for ourselves. Lines of Defense poignantly captures the absurdities of modern life, expectations derailed, the lived life juxtaposed to the imagined life, and the defenses we don to make do. The poems in Lines of Defense are wry and elegiac, ...more
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published January 6th 2014 by W. W. Norton Company
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3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  83 ratings  ·  20 reviews

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Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book made me sad because I love Stephen Dunn's poetry (in general) but was incredibly underwhelmed by these particular poems.

I shouldn't have been surprised. I felt the same way about his last collection, Here and Now. I keep buying and reading his books in loyalty to the Pulitzer Prize winning Different Hours and his wonderful New and Selected 1975-1994. But I've simply got to disagree with all the plaudits on the back of the book from writers whose opinions I otherwise respect. This is a
Roger DeBlanck
Jan 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Stephen Dunn is one of America’s most revered poets, but this collection does not match the level of artistry representative of his earlier work. The majority of the poems in Lines of Defense are lazy and uninspiring. They almost seem a resignation, as though Dunn knows his best work may be behind him? These verses dabble and meander on the surface, oftentimes serving up trivial musings, but never breaking ground to probe for deeper insights. They feel like Dunn has, perhaps, raked through old j ...more
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
There are no high speed chases or car crashes in Stephen Dunn's books. Well… maybe there are somewhere way back there, and I just can't remember. Anyway, Stephen Dunn is in my Top 3 American poets at the moment. And the only reason I gave "Lines of Defense" 4 stars is that his last book killed me so dead, I'm not sure how to reference all other collections of poetry in comparison anymore.

I loved this book. Let's say that. And the poem "For My Son" on page 66 is a new mantra for me. Well… and the
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, poetry
I have said before that I am a huge fan of Stephen Dunn's work, and while this book is not my favorite of his, it is still remarkable. The best poems in it deal with love, not some romantic ideal of it, but rather genuine affection and how to maintain and deal with that in the face of hard reality, including death. Other poems deal with hidden truths, the things we avoid saying or believing for the sake of our own comfort, and the role of the poet in this critical examination. Often beautiful, a ...more
Tyler Jones
Sep 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Dunn, while not exactly a subtle poet, is, I think, turning down the volume a little bit. These poems still are backed by the same strong voice - the one with a touch of booze in the breath - but, these poems are asking to be read a little more carefully. And if you would care to read one or two a few times over, you might even find some depth here that the more famous knock-you-down-with-a-brick collections that preceded it may not have had.
Gerry LaFemina
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This is a strong book of poems, more heavy on allegory than I expect of Dunn, and perhaps a bit more willingness to stray toward sentimentality. It's good to see one of our finest poets still willing to risk straying from what he does do well, whether successful or not. And for the most part these poems are keepers, their lines memorable, their music clear, their wisdom often sphinx-like.
Mike Hammer
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a fantastic collection stephen dunn is a master of finding a deep situation in every day activities and his poems always understandable and tells a story and using wonderful language this collection is a bit melancholy but with joy underneath
Daniel Klawitter
Jan 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Stephen Dunn is one of our most reliable poets...17 poetry collections so far and such a distinctive poetic voice. Lines of Defense has that same amazing consistency and high quality.
Ben Pieper
Perhaps not quite as engaging as 2013's Here and Now, but Dunn remains as thought-provoking as ever. Marriage, old and new, remains a muse for him in poems like "Anniversary Poem" (obviously) and "For My Son." Death also looms in Dunn's mind throughout the collection. Thankfully, Dunn is also concerned with other issues beyond love and death. As he insists at the end of Lines of Defense's final poem: "I love the truth, / I swear I do."

"The Country of the Next Thing"
"Now, Finally"
Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Between the not it, and the not-quite-not-it, lie Stephen Dunn's recent poems, his fifteenth book, perhaps more to the side of the latter, which he will mind not at all. The not it has the grace to be a wrong road headed in the right direction; Dunn's poems occupy a larger space, which I among many tenant, and have, in my case, since 1981, when first I read Dunn's great poem, "Coming Home, Garden State Parkway," from Full of Lust and Good Usage (1976), a poem thematically similar to the poems in ...more
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
I wanted to enjoy this as much as I liked Different Hours, but this collection was comparatively disappointing. The poems, filled with vague paradoxes and reaching metaphors that just didn't come together, didn't grab my attention. And, while I don't mind ordinary topics and everyday subject matter, Dunn, rather than elevate these snapshots of everyday life with his linguistic and artistic skill, almost seems to suggest a push toward settling for mediocrity that just didn't sit right with me. De ...more
R.G. Evans
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The discourse which began long ago in Circus of Needs and reached its epitome in Between Angels and the sublime Pulitzer Prize winning Different Hours continues here in Stephen Dunn's Lines of Defense. The wry voice teasing out mindscapes now sounds an elegiac note and often muses on--of all things--real earned happiness, but it is still as satisfying as a partner in inner conversation as it always has been.
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I wonder how often reading a book or poetry is about your personal narrative as read. I have found a hat this poetry struck a nerve that was needed to be fine-tuned. More importantly, there were a couple of poems that just resonated with the the trivial aspects of life while still managing capture and contemplate many of the absurd moments of today.
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, older-ya
Pulitzer Prize winner, Stephen Dunn, presents a slim volume of readable poems about daily life in an honest seemingly plain manner. Many poems are about youth, but some concern later adult problems such as divorce.
Feb 18, 2016 rated it liked it
But for the wonderful poem "Pedagogical" I would've given this 2 stars.
Kristen Iworsky
Jan 30, 2017 rated it liked it
2.5 stars. Just couldn't get into his poetry. There were a few poems I did like, but I think I'm out of practice in reading poetry.
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Stephen Dunn is wonderful.
Sarah-louise Raillard
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful new collection of Dunne's work. Perhaps nothing will ever top "Loves" for me, but this comes close.
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Spectacular... Cannot wait to reread it again.
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Stephen Dunn was born in New York City in 1939. He earned a B.A. in history and English from Hofstra University, attended the New School Writing Workshops, and finished his M.A. in creative writing at Syracuse University. Dunn has worked as a professional basketball player, an advertising copywriter, and an editor, as well as a professor of creative writing.

Dunn's books of poetry include Everythin
“Where are we going?
It’s not an issue of here or there.
And if you ever feel you can’t
take another step, imagine
how you might feel to arrive,
if not wiser, a little more aware
how to inhabit the middle ground
between misery and joy.
Trudge on. In the higher regions,
where the footing is unsure,
to trudge is to survive.”
More quotes…