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The Book of a Hundred Hands
by Cole Swensen
University of Iowa Press, 2005
eISBN: 978-1-58729-647-5 | Paper: 978-0-87745-946-0
Library of Congress Classification PS3569.W384B66 2005
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.54

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
The hand is second only to language in defining the human being, and its constant presence makes it a ready reminder of our humanity, with all its privileges and obligations. In this dazzling collection, Cole Swensen explores the hand from any angle approachable by language and art. Her hope: to exhaust the hand as subject matter; her joy: the fact that she couldn’t.

These short poems reveal the hand from a hundred different perspectives. Incorporating sign language, drawing manuals, paintings from the 14th to the 20th century, shadow puppets, imagined histories, positions (the “hand as a boatless sail”), and professions (“the hand as window in which the panes infinitesimal”), Cole Swensen’s fine hand is “that which augments” our understanding and appreciation of “this freak wing,” this “wheel that comforts none” yet remains “a fruit the size and shape of the heart.”

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