The Miniature Room

Rebecca Dunham

This title is OUT OF PRINT.

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.


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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.

—Eric Pankey

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.

—Sherod Santos



Part 1
Box Series
This is a Letter
The Soap Bubble
Sappho: Portrait Sitting 1877
Phial: Elizabeth Bishop at Age 6
Ontology of the Miniature Room
Artemisia Slaying Holofernes, 1620
A Leaf, A Hare

Part 2
Ghazal in Minium
Winter Solstice
Cartography of the Sublime
Black Frost
Poem in the Manner of Frida Kahlo
Self-Portrait as Miniature
Curator of Fruit

Part 3
Putting Him to Bed
In Which I am the Serpent in the Garden
Still Life with Gilt Goblet
Vernal Equinox
Book of the City of Ladies
Catherine Blake
Th e Tempest
Saint Anne to Her Daughter

Part 4
Harem of Saint Marcia
Reptilian Nocturne
Galileo’s Daughter
Two Photographs
All That Is
God Measuring the World with a Compass
Yard Elegy


About the Author


Rebecca Dunham is professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has won a 2007 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in Poetry, the Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellowship, the 2005 Indiana Review Poetry Prize, and a 2005 Academy of American Poets Prize. Her work has also appeared in poetry magazines and journals. She received her PhD in creative writing from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

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I find the wealth of details and depth of textured images in this book to be captivating.... Rebecca Dunham combines precisely described images with compelling and compact content, presenting a fresh blend that lends toward a rich and rewarding reading of her enchanting poetry.

Valparaiso Poetry Review

A beautifully published and enthusiastically recommended collection of poetry…showcases a true poetic talent and skilled wordsmith.

Midwest Book Review

The music in her writing helps elevate the poems out of their shadowy emotional depths. She plays with words and phrases, periodically calling to mind a sample artist, transforming, as she does, language through repetition and collage.

Indiana Review