Annal: 1994 Walt Whitman Award

Results of the Walt Whitman Award in the year 1994.

Book:Because the Brain Can Be Talked into Anything

Because the Brain Can Be Talked into Anything: Poems

Jan Richman

In selecting Jan Richman’s dazzling first collection of poems as winner of the 1994 Walt Whitman Award, Robert Pinsky praised Richman for the “rowdy, restless intelligence” of her work, the “sense of purpose” in her poems, and her wit, which is “ready to question anything, including the poses of identity itself.” Indeed, these incisive poems, “attractive, flamboyant, and comic” on their surface, plunge into bitter experience—and survive it by means of an “ardent, sardonic skepticism,” a defiant sense of self, and pure art.

Richman arranges her poems in two sections. Part I, “Reasons,” describes her childhood, often harrowing family entanglements, the death of her mother, and her struggle to define herself in relation to her given world. Part II, “Excuses,” embraces the freedoms and terrors of adulthood. It explores love and sex, and rattles the boundaries between people in relationships.…[more]

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