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August 28 , 2008

American Sampler


In 1806, 12-year-old Hannah embroiders the sampler of the long title poem. As the seasons pass, she works through her grief in the language of embroidery; for among the births and deaths recorded in Hannah’s stitches are those of her little brother Nathan. American Sampler is about vanishing worlds and the struggle of memory, craft, and imagination to hold fragments of the past and turn them into fresh, breathing moments. Jane Duran’s childhood memories of rural New England—its landscapes, weather, and light—permeate many of the poems. A beaded moccasin, a folk painting, a letter from a Union soldier, a Tappan chair: art, artifact, and archive inform and illuminate these sympathetic glimpses into an America long past.

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