Winner of the 2006 T. S. Eliot Prize
With tender probing and tight, expressive language, The Miniature Room explores the grace and power of the minuscule as it exists within an infinite universe. This 2006 T. S. Eliot Prize-winning collection utilizes rich imagery and complex interlocking meanings as author Rebecca Dunham builds off the classical themes of art, history, nature, love, life, religion, and motherhood to provide a sensual and inquisitive body of work.
This deeply melodious and intelligent gathering of poems, both painterly and literary in context, bears a stunning lushness of language and vision. There’s a mysterious pulse and scent permeating the exquisitely crafted, sometimes slightly ominous, images. Poems about a small son resonate inside a larger context—the wider natural world and all of civilization. One feels hypnotized inside a “slant” angle of perceptions unhampered by an intrusion of artifice. The Miniature Room is a manuscript of profound intention and finesse.
—Naomi Shihab Nye, 2006 T. S. Eliot Prize judge
Rebecca Dunham’s title, The Miniature Room, prepares us for the compression of these intense poems, which amaze us with the grace and rigor of their impeccable intelligence. As lyrics, the scale of these poems is intimate, but they open nonetheless onto an elaborate and intricate vision, onto a complex and palpable sublime.
Rebecca Dunham’s The Miniature Room has internalized the most difficult aesthetic lesson of early miniaturist painting: the smaller the space, the larger the wonder. And such is the experience of reading this book. For with their exquisite concentration and lapidary phrasings, these poems still somehow manage to embrace an enormous range of ideas, emotions and historical particulars. And the world is given back to us burnished by the light of the artist’s brush.