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Selected Poems
Selected Poems

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Near Changes
Near Changes



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Mona Van Duynwas born in Waterloo, Iowa, in 1921, and since 1950 has lived in St. Louis, Missouri. She has taught widely in the United States and abroad, most recently at Washington University. She is the author of nine books of poems: Firefall (1994); If It Be Not I: Collected Poems, 1959-1982 (1994); Near Changes (1990), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize; Letters from a Father and Other Poems (1982); Merciful Disguises (1973); Bedtime Stories (1972); To See, to Take (1970), which received the National Book Award; A Time of Bees (1964); and Valentines to the Wide World (1959).

With her husband, Jarvis Thurston, she founded Perspective, a Quarterly of Literature in 1947, and co-edited it until 1970. She has been awarded the Bollingen Prize, the Hart Crane Memorial Award, the Ruth Lilly Prize, the Loines Prize of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize and the Eunice Tietjens Award from Poetry, and the Shelley Memorial Prize, as well as fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has served as Poet Laureate of the United States and is a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets.

This generous selection of Mona Van Duyn’s distinguished, award-winning work spans four decades. Beginning with her classic Valentines to the Wide World (1959), encompassing the intimate voice of Bedtime Stories (1972) and the moving Letters from a Father (1982), crowned by the life-spanning Firefall (1993), Selected Poems reacquaints us with a poet whose ear is keenly tuned to the music of nature and human conversation. In lively and varied forms, from her minimalist sonnets to her magisterial longer pieces, Van Duyn captures a multiplicity of worlds within her world, in a tone inflected by both Midwestern pragmatism and a deep metaphysical intelligence. As she contemplates the act of reading in bed, a Rhenish sculpture in the Cloisters, or the loss of her mother, the poet goes beyond context to discover consciousness: an expression of the larger ideas and emotions—finally, the art—in the smallest details of our lives.