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In a collection that represents over thirty-five years of her writing life, this distinguished poet explores a wide range of subjects, which include her cultural and family history and reflect her fascination with music and the discoveries offered by language. In fact, her book is a testament to the miraculous power of language to interpret and transform our world. It is a testament that invites readers to share her vision of experiences we all have in common: sorrow, tenderness, desire, the revelations of art, and mortality - "the hard, dry smack of death against the glass." To this community Mueller presents moments after moment where the personal and public realms intersect, where lives ranging from her own to those of Mary Shelley and Anton Webern illuminate the ways in which history shapes our lives. In "Brendel Playing Schubert, " Mueller's breathtaking linguistic virtuosity reminds us how music can transport us out of ourselves and into "the nowhere where the enchanted live"; in "Midwinter Notes, " the crepuscular world, stripped of its veil, shines forth as a signal from some realm where the sense of things may be revealed. In the title piece Mueller brings a sense of enduring and unclouded wonder to a recognition of all those whose lives might have been our own.
Winner of the 2002 Ruth Lilly Prize given by Poetry magazine and a founding member of the Poetry Center of Chicago, Lisel Mueller was the author of seven volumes of poems: Alive Together, winner of the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; The Need to Hold Still, awarded the 1981 National Book Award for Poetry; Waving from Shore, recipient of a 1990 Carl Sandburg Award; The Private Life, the 1975 Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets; and three other volumes.