A Pillow Book

New York Times Best Poetry of 2016
Entropy Best Non-Fiction of 2016
The Walrus Best Books of 2016

Not a narrative. Not an essay. Not a shopping list. Not a song. Not a diary. Not an etiquette manual. Not a confession. Not a prayer. Not a secret letter sent through the silent Palace hallways before dawn. Making a daybook of oblivion, A Pillow Book leads the reader on a darkly comic tour through the dim-lit valley of fitful sleep. The miscellaneous memoranda, minutiae, dreamscapes, and lists that comprise this book-length poem disclose a prismatic meditation on the price of privilege; the petty grievances of marriage, motherhood, art, and office politics; the indignities of age; and the putative properties of dreams, among other themes, set in the dead of winter in a Midwestern townhouse on the eve of the end of geo-history. Feather-light in its touch, quixotic in its turns, and resolutely deadpan in its delivery, A Pillow Book offers a twenty-first-century response to a thousand-year-old Japanese genre which resists, while slyly absorbing, all attempts to define it.

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The Irrationalist

2010 Griffin Poetry Prize Finalist

"Suzanne Buffam’s The Irrationalist takes nothing for granted. Its rhythms manage to mimic the mind at work, the mind edgy and witty and sharp. The tones are brave and sweeping, ready to re-define the world, alert not only to history and the exigencies of the contemporary, but also to larger questions to do with philosophy, with time and space. " —Judges' Citation for the 2011 Griffin Prize Shortlist

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Past Imperfect

Winner of 2006 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award

“Rue is a sun-loving plant,” observes the quixotic speaker of Past Imperfect. And ruefulness – the interior echo of an imperfect past – haunts the book’s protagonist on her travels through a tragicomic world. Whether it be the briefly sunlit ridge of the “Inklings” sequence, the star-covered bench of “In Broad Daylight,” or a creaking ship’s deck in “Mariner,” this collection explores the fugitive nature of home and self, tempering heartbreak with a prismatic wit. These are poems of great intensity, driven by intelligence, tracing the barely knowable contours of a soul-in-progress.

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