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Family Preserve

Dabney Stuart

BUY Paper · 96 pp. · 5.5 × 8.5 · ISBN 9780813923284 · $18.95 · Mar 2005

Exhibiting the mastery of poetic line and sharpness of focus we have come to associate with Dabney Stuart’s work, this volume, Stuart's fifteenth, weaves a series of finely delineated portraits into a complicated fabric of relationship. Family Preserve gathers the family poems scattered throughout Stuart's books over the past four decades and intersperses them with new and previously unpublished poems. By turns comic and tragic, this collection engages the reader in the complex process of longing, mourning, and preserving family ties.

Beginning with what would seem the end, the collection’s introductory poem, "The Long Good-bye," sets the stage for the volume, inviting the reader to accompany the speaker as he confronts the entanglement of his memories. The poems that follow offer intimate glimpses into the often tricky relationships among parents, siblings, and children. The volume ends in the union of once discordant voices: the speaker with the memory of his father, the speaker’s younger self with his older self, and time with timelessness; yet it is the recognition of the often elusive process of remembering that makes Stuart’s poetry so powerful.

A compelling look at familial relationships and the function of memory, Family Preserve is a significant milestone in Dabney Stuart's long and distinguished poetic career, and an important addition to the elegy, open form, and ode.


Stuart is a resourceful poet who writes elegant traditional verse, wildly surreal experiments, imagistic free verse; he writes tight three-beat lines or long flowing lines or triadic step-down lines like those of the late Williams; he composes brief lyrics, comic romps, dramatic narratives, modernist meditations. But Stuart’s virtuosity is never showy. It is a means of responding to an ever-changing, paradoxical world in which time is remorseless, the unpredictable is dominant, loss is ubiquitous, and, as he says in The Man Who Loves Cezanne, "everything is eccentric."

Floyd Skloot, author of, author of In the Shadow of Memory

About the Author(s): 

Dabney Stuart is the author of nineteen books of poetry, fiction, and criticism, including Light Years: New and Selected Poems. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the first Virginia Governor’s Award given to a writer (1979). He also has been a fellow at the Rockefeller Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy. He currently lives with his wife, Sandra, in Lexington, Virginia.

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