This collection of fifty-two poems from the author of Angel Fire and Anonymous Sins explores the annihilation of the time-bound ego, a liberating, sometimes terrifying experience for all who live within the fabulous beast of history and nature. The poems explore the shifting, elusive point at which the inwardness of individual experience touches upon the larger consciousness of a species or an era, forming a connection with a self that goes beyond subjectivity. The poems are grouped into four parts: Broken Connections, Forbidden Testimonies, The Child-Martyr and A Posthumous Sketch, are prose poems which, though technically different from the others, are concerned with the same theme-the relationship between the individual and a larger, all-inclusive whole. Neither fatalistic nor rebellious, the poems convey the idea that as long as we live in time we must struggle, and that is this struggle that determines our humanity.
Joyce Carol Oates is the author of four books of poems and numerous works of fiction and nonfiction. Her most recent books include The Poisoned Kiss, The Seduction and Other Stories, and The Assassins. Her novel Them won the National Book Award in 1970.