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Pyramid of Bone

Thylias Moss

BUY Paper · 54 pp. · 5.5 × 8.5 · ISBN 9780813912028 · $16.50 · Jan 1989

Whiting Award, Whiting Foundation (2015)

Although many of Moss’s poems discuss race and gender, these subjects are, explains scholar Langdon Hammer, simply "starting points for her work…her poetry makes such facts of identity seem unfamiliar, their meanings not to be predicted, unavailable to the naked eye." Known for startling metaphors and vivid imagery, Moss’s work demonstrates an expansive imagination that seeks to connect at times wildly disparate subjects.


Rage and unyielding honesty suffuse this collection, the eighth volume in the Callaloo Poetry Series. In her second volume of poems, Moss ( Hosiery Seams on a Bowlegged Woman ) raises questions about her black heritage, womanhood, God, culturein reverberating, realistic language: ``God blinks again. The earth is still there unchanged. / And poor God cannot pass the buck, he made the buck.'' But her sensibility is surrealistic also: ``When I look down at the wreckage on the wall of eggs that / came out of me, I see what's inside is as white and / gold as Heidi.'' She transforms emotion into unsettling poems with exotic metaphors and images: ``Only the seamstress changes, / the vinegar she's become cannot sterilize the needle /before it penetrates.'' When the poet's tone turns strident, the book suffers, but on the whole Moss remains in control, her poems simultaneously enchanted and pragmatic, unsentimental and affecting: ``The miracle was not birth but that I lived despite my crimes.'

Publishers Weekly

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