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Mere Being, by Barry D. Amis

In poems well-honed and riveting, Barry Amis bears witness to the world’s struggles and enigmas. He ponders lost opportunities, the universal concerns of good vs. evil, gifts and losses, the ravages of world unrest, and the tribulations of inner cities. Profound and intense, Mere Being ultimately offers hope that one day the riddle of life’s paradoxes will be solved, and equality and stability will come to all.

—Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, author of Gathering Light and Poet Laureate of Virginia, 2006-2008

There is uncommon linguistic agility in Barry Amis’ work that brings words like “cradle” and “cactus” into insightful proximity, and offers us such pairs as “saxophoning gossamer” and “wellwanting grief.” Thus, language draws us into the intelligible world, even as it skirts a mystery. Many of the poems point toward survival: birds that “rise and hum” and leave us with wise and lasting admonitions: “Say it, / stone is no substitute / for manna.” Indeed, with each verse in Mere Being, we are being gracefully, wordfully fed.

—Sofia M. Starnes, author of The Consequence of Moonlight and Poet Laureate of Virginia, 2012-2014

One could do worse than trip in the tradition of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Charles Wright. These pieces may be “Unprayered” but, on Easter Island, the speaker in Amis’ “Moai,” who has traveled his own version of the via negativa, says, “Lie down my guardians, / We go to meet miracles.”

—Ron Smith, author of The Humility of the Brutes and Poet Laureate of Virginia, 2014–2016

Barry D. Amis lives in Alexandria, VA and has degrees from Penn State, the University of Pennsylvania, Middlebury College, and Michigan State. He was professor of American and African American literature at Michigan State and Purdue University. He was also Fulbright professor of American Studies in France, Madagascar, Cameroon, and Niger. He lectured and conducted workshops for the United States Information Agency in more than two dozen countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He was a Regional Director for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) in Virginia. His poetry and articles have appeared in a variety of journals.

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