Winner of the 1999 National Book Award for Poetry
Collected here are poems from Ai’s previous five books―Cruelty, Killing Floor, Sin, Fate, and Greed―along with seventeen new poems. Employing her trademark ferocity, these new dramatic monologues continue to mine this award-winning poet’s “often brilliant” (Chicago Tribune) vision.
“Ai is a truthteller picking her way through the burning rocks of racial and sexual lies. Her poems are frightening but necessary.” — Joy Harjo
“One of the most singular voices of her generation.” — New York Times Book Review
“Fascinatingly and ironically, Ai does not write about herself; she is not even overtly present in her own work. However her scorching honesty always subtly calls forth the poet to the reader’s mind. Her dramatic monologues are dominated with characters that are eager to tell their stories in their own words about their experiences. This poet has a pronounced proclivity towards giving voice to characters that are normally silenced and marginalized in contemporary society.
…by presenting these characters telling their stories, Ai demands that the reader moves beyond censure and into the realm of understanding the socio-historical and economic conditions that may have engendered such behavior…To witness the combination of her flexibility and wealth of historical and contemporary knowledge is not only a written performance par excellence but also a learning experience.”