Practicing the World

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The delights and conflicts of a long and loving marriage are revealed in these luminous poems written as the poet’s husband is diagnosed with cancer, endures treatment, and dies, all within months. With impressive technical mastery, Sornberger uses forms such as the sonnet, sestina, and villanelle—as well as free verse—to discover meaning and beauty in this time of loss. The pleasures of the present moment— birds at the feeder, creatures wild and domestic, dancing in the kitchen with her husband, and arguing hilariously about the afterlife —shimmer with life. Even as the poet mourns, grief gradually transforms into a deeper capacity for joy.

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