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January 22 , 2010

A Palace of Pearls


“Book by book, Jane Miller has evolved a mode, a voice, a palette and landscape entirely her own. If she were a painter, one might describe it as a descendant of cubism, a composition of multiple planes and reflections that appears to emerge out of itself, true to laws of its own nature, and yet is disturbingly recognizable, continuously suggestive, intimate and beautiful. Her subject is love and illusion and their revelation about each other.”—W. S. Merwin

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“Reading Jane Miller’s poetry is like channel-surfing on acid.”—L.A. Weekly

Jane Miller is a traveler stimulated by ideas beyond our immediate sphere. In this book-length sequence animated and propelled by a confrontation with her dead father, she meditates on home, love, war and the responsibility of the poet.

A Palace of Pearls is inspired by one of the most spectacular civilizations in history, the Arab kingdom of Al-Andalus—a Middle Age civilization where architecture, science and art flourished and Christians, Jews and Muslims lived in relative harmony. The reader roams through “rooms,” encountering Greek, Judaic and Roman mythology, and through the streets of fifteenth-century Spain and contemporary Rome in Miller’s most personal and associative volume.

From A Palace of Pearls

We bow our heads
for the ancient draping of the gardenia lei in the hotel lobby
and are relieved of our possessions as per a reminder
that one must enter Paradise a little naked

Jane Miller is the author of eight previous books of poetry and essays. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Award. She lives in Tucson and teaches in the creative writing program at The University of Arizona, having served as the program’s director from 1999–2003.

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