The University of Wisconsin Press



Suzanne Paola

The Brittingham Prize in Poetry
Ronald Wallace, General Editor

Winner of the 1998 Brittingham Prize in Poetry, Selected by Donald Hall

Suzanne Paola fuses the Tibetan bardo journey with Western epic tradition in ways that are both comic and harrowing. Bardo is the intermediate state after death when the soul wanders through the heavens and the hells while trying to avoid rebirth into samsara—the realm of the material—and to instead reach nirvana. Paola presents a series of this life's bardo experiences: drug use, the refused birth of infertility, the social implications of the female body, even a trip to the fantastic "afterworld" of pop culture. Bardo 's journey travels to a place where "to be human is to be part god, / part sickness, / always wondering which is which."

"Suzanne Paola's poetry, as represented in Bardo, is to my mind truly remarkable, even heroic. Again and again, she takes on subjects and experiences many writers would find unmanageable. She not only treats these difficult matters successfully; she transforms them, triumphantly, into music, into the most exacting examples of her craft, into a dance of language and emotion whose authority we can not only acknowledge but rejoice in."—David Young

"Bardo is a terrific collection of poems. After the deluge of prose books pairing Tao and physics, Zen and VW maintenance, it's a special pleasure to have it all done now with a poet's bounty and accuracy: Suzanne Paola, freestyling snappily down the line between scholarship and sass, combines Tibetan Buddhism with the drugged-out rocked-up boomer American landscape, and brings the full bravura energy of her vision (part classical Rome, part glitzy Caesar's Palace) to bear upon all of our invaluable, fractured lives."—Albert Goldbarth

"In Bardo, a god-haunted poet scrabbles for the sublime in the debris of language, the rubbish of visions. Instructed by Tibetan Buddhism, by Homer, and by the Book of Revelations, Suzanne Paola's poems glimmer with verbal inventiveness but accept the discipline of clear sight and human boundaries. A flamboyant and searching book."—Rosanna Warren

Suzanne Paola is associate professor of English at Western Washington University and the author of two books of poetry, Petitioner and Glass. She lives with her husband and daughter in Bellingham, Washington.

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cover of Bardo is an illustration of the Far Eastern stick puppet, in purple

October 1998
94 pp. 6 x 9
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Paper $14.95 t
  Cloth $26.95 s
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