Wonder Cabinet

E-book – $49.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-6672-1

Trade Paper – $14.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-5173-4

Cloth Text – $49.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-5172-7
Publication Date
April 2006
Page Count
112 pages
Trim Size
6-1/8 x 8-1/2

Wonder Cabinet

David Barber
Taking its inspiration from the wonder and curiosity cabinets of the late Renaissance, David Barber's second book of poems offers itself up as an eclectic gallery of natural marvels and historical gleanings. Creation is Barber's chief subject and he often concentrates on how human nature is constantly seeking to impose definition and significance upon the natural world. These are poems that meditate on all manner of wondrous phenomena: falconry and funiculars; the knotted quipus of the Inca Empire and the tulip mania of the Dutch Golden Age; the lore and language of field guides, epitaphs, beekeeping, and seafaring; the ghostly vestiges of the La Brea tar pits and the ancient library of Alexandria. Then, in an innovative suite of "New World Sutras" composed in haiku stanzas, Barber riffs on the American genius for self-invention and epic ambition by calling up landmark figures such as Audubon, Houdini, Babe Ruth, and Buster Keaton. With a formal and verbal precision that is rife with agile music, avid wordplay, and mordant wit, Barber delves deeply into the realms of both natural history and popular culture.
About the Author
David Barber is the poetry editor at The Atlantic Monthly. His first book The Spirit Level (Northwestern, 1995) was published as a winner of the Terrence Des Pres Prize. Barber's poems have appeared in literary magazines such as Field, Georgia Review, The New England Review, The New Republic, Paris Review, Poetry, and Virginia Quarterly Review. His reviews and articles have appeared in The Boston Globe, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The New Criterion, Parnassus, and elsewhere. He lives in Somerville, MA, outside of Boston.
"The botanist, the beekeeper, the falconer, the grammarian, the master of the high wire, the student of dew: David Barber's Wonder Cabinet finds room for them all. And finds in them all the common ground of poetry: devout articulation of the given world. Barber's gift for form is most luminous at just that juncture where form becomes meaning. These poems are built on wonder, and beautifully produce it." --Linda Gregerson
Praise for The Spirit Level:
"The Spirit Level testifies to Barber's eye for the quickening phrase and sheer muscle power of careful thought and precise diction." --Parnassus
"Observant, generous, unfailingly tactful, Barber documents 'a realm/whose overlords were patience and corrosion.' He is a poet of enormous gifts, and already, no small mastery." --Rosanna Warren