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Enter the 2010
Book Prize

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The Kissing Party

by Sarah Barber

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"Eros and wit make for an irresistible pair, true enough. Invest their coupling with a cast of classical figures, a compelling lyric music, and a lush sense of the laden line, and, well, you have a party worth attending. What is most alluring here remains the book's complex of delicious tensions—sensuality paired with spiritual longing, a keen, critical eye attended by deep compassion, and a very much spoken delivery attaining sculptural precision."
—Scott Cairns

If The Kissing Party could carry its own flag, it would read, "that obscenity the heart," the perfect tagline for Sarah Barber's smart and sexy collection. This book is classical and crude, calculated and crafty, thoroughly seductive and not a little naughty. But most memorable for me are the lyrically transcendent moments in poems such as 'Late Birds' and in lines such as "I who make longing a professional career." Barber's career looks to be a promising one indeed.
—Kathy Fagan

“Fiercely intelligent and sexy, The Kissing Party reads like a fabular closet drama, whose flood subjects — desire and the soul's sojourn — are played out by dramatis personae ranging widely and provocatively from Apollo and other classical figures from myth and art, Rothko, various holy men and women, porn stars, Lord Byron, and anonymous protagonists from an erotic novel of the Abruzzi, to the daring, insomniacal guises of the narrator herself. The poems cavort boldly with patent rhetorical and romantic moves — the male gaze, traditional poetic form, the pathetic fallacy, the onus of the human heart, vanitas, and de Man's notion of autobiography as defacement. Like Dickinson, Barber wields her words like blades; hers is an original sensibility, 'untidily / golden and dangerously sharp.'”
—Lisa Russ Spaar

Sarah Barber grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. She received her MFA from the University of Virginia and her PhD from the University of Missouri. She teaches at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York.