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Humor Me: Poems by Claudia Gary-Annis

While Claudia Gary-Annis seems to ask the reader’s indulgence in her collection Humor Me, the joke is more likely to be on the reader: these graceful formal lyrics, by turns dark and satirical and tender, are a rigorous journey through ideas to deeper feeling.

Sample Poems by Claudia Gary-Annis

“A composer as well as a poet, Claudia Gary-Annis deftly measures her words. From the gentle ironies of ‘The Conjugal Bookcase’ to the hilarious ‘Song of the Off-Duty Psychiatrist,’ this poet creates dramatic displacements from our ordinary lives, refreshing experience as we read. I’m struck not only by her management of strict forms, but also by the range of impersonations and scenes —a life viewed with delightful angularity and—yes—humor.”—David Mason

“At first glance, these poems by Claudia Gary-Annis are defined by form: light verse, epigram and small, resonant lyric—the poetry of good sense exacted from verbal scruple. Greater intimacy sponsors a critical paradox. Her best poems, without abandoning clarity, seem self-generated from the words themselves. The discipline is as severe as the end is playful. Sometimes one encounters an almost childlike silliness. In ‘The Topiarist,’ we read: ‘He's been called away/And suddenly each leaf's on holiday.’ At other times, her art becomes a form of divine madness. In ‘Findings,’ she seeks the truth behind ‘whims, inventions and findings,’ and finds: ‘You are the kernel wobbling in a shell,/the apple rocking in a wooden bowl...’ Transcending form while depending utterly upon its fulfillment, such self-knowledge is a kind of ecstasy.”—Tom D’Evelyn

“These poems have a wistful, elegiac quality. At first we seem to hover between existence and non-existence with metaphors that flirt with uncertainty and non- resemblance. Then suddenly there is a brilliantly exact description; the tone changes; we are smiling with amusement. But the otherworldliness is never far away. Reading these poems is a wonderful experience.”—Richard Moore

Claudia Gary-Annis is a poet, composer, editor, and freelance writer who lives in the Washington, D.C. area. Her poems have appeared in The Formalist, Edge City Review, Light, The Lyric, Pivot, Sparrow, Medicinal Purposes, Neovictorian/Cochlea, Orbis (U.K.), and other literary journals, as well as a number of newspapers and newsletters, Web journals, and anthologies. Her chapbook Ripples in the Fabric was published in 1996 by Somers Rocks Press, and her more recent chapbook, Schadenfreud(e) and Other Occupational Hazards, was published in 2004 by Musings Press. She has given readings in many east coast cities and has taught poetry workshops for adults and children. Former poetry editor of Edge City Review and founding editor-publisher of Musings from Northern Virginia, she is currently northern regional vice president of the Poetry Society of Virginia and senior editor of Vietnam Magazine.

Her musical works, which have been performed in a number of U.S. cities, include chamber music and art songs based on poems by Shakespeare, Marvell, and Heine as well as contemporary poets including Dana Gioia, Frederick Turner, Phillis Levin, Frederick Feirstein, Marilyn Marsh Noll, and others. One of her songs—a setting for soprano, violin, and cello of Shakespeare’s Sonnet XVIII (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”)—appeared in issue 60 of Sparrow, the Yearbook of the Sonnet. For more information see her Web site at (http://claudiagary.home.att.net).

ISBN 1932339884, 88 pages, $17.00

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