1996 Winner

The Fragile City

by Lesley Dauer

The Fragile City"The surreal poems of Lesley Dauer in The Fragile City comprise a kind of Spoon River Anthology of the mid-nineties as filmed by Roman Polanski or David Lynch. But the vision of this poet disinterested neither in violence nor in the perverse. It is interested in love. The tentative inhabitants of her city are rendered with such compelling tenderness and empathy that they become versions of all of us."

--Jonathan Holden, 1996 Final Judge


"The book's great achievement is that it can do what its characters find so difficult: it understands the sadness of others. . . The language is clear and direct, and the poems are written with a great variety of tone and with considerable psychological sophistication. The poet has lovely sense of humor, wry and pleased to be amused by the world. The is book is very fresh and unusual and will make its publisher proud and readers both happy and thoughtful."

--William Matthews


"In The Fragile City we live with a cast of characters so intimately and clearly defined we know them to be our own, we care for them like we care for blood kin, like we want to care for everyone. Lesley Dauer's gift is rare; she's able to record, with acute delicacy and light-handed depth, the nearly invisible moments of emphatic epiphany by means of which we glimpse simple divinity."

--Dara Wier


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