“[Stephen Dunn] has taken his place among our major, indispensable poets.”—Miami Herald
From “Before We Leave”:
Where are we going?
It’s not an issue of here or there.
And if you ever feel you can’t
take another step, imagine
how you might feel to arrive,
if not wiser, a little more aware
how to inhabit the middle ground
between misery and joy.
"Stephen Dunn’s fresh batch of poems teaches us that ‘to tell’ is just as good as ‘to show’ if you have something worth telling. These are smart, forceful, meticulously spoken poems that tell us some vital truths about how to conduct our lives." — Billy Collins
"Stephen Dunn’s newest poems—retrospective, elegiac, comic, quotidian, tactful, and transcendent—true the self’s comprehensions of its own stories as a sawyer’s jig, file, and hammer true a saw, yet without ever sacrificing tenderness for sharpness (or the reverse). Lines of Defense reconfirms Dunn’s long-held place as one of our most necessary American poets: if he did not exist, we would have to invent him. But—what luck— exist he does." — Jane Hirshfield
"Over a lifetime richly invested in poetry, Dunn has mastered his signature take on an artfully colloquial voice that, in the guise of plainspeaking, slyly lampoons our daily pretensions, tenderly empathizes with our daily disappointments, and reminds us that the day-to-day can serve as the gateway to otherness. Lines of Defense is an admirable addition to that life-work, its difficult honesties and wrestlings with conscience lurking under beckoningly, entertainingly casual surfaces." — Albert Goldbarth