Quan Barry's first book, Asylum, was heralded as ""a remarkable debut"" (Callaloo), ""ambitious, stern,...unsettling"" (Parnassus), and ""a knockout first book"" that ""shatters the idea of culture with devastating clarity (Bloomsbury Review). It was praised for ""the tightness, mystery, and resonant beauty of the writing"" (Poetry Flash), its ""rich images deftly drawn in a cold, honed poetry"" (Publishers Weekly), and ""language that seethes beneath the surface but remains beautifully controlled"" (Library Journal - Best Poetry of 2001). Controvertibles features more of the refined brilliance and delicate lyricism of this poet, cast in a more meditative mode. Throughout, she examines cultural objects by lifting them out of their usual settings and repositioning them in front of new, disparate backdrops. Doug Flutie's famous Hail Mary pass and Rutger Hauer's role in Blade Runner are contextualized within the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Bob Beamon's world-record-setting long jump in the 1968 Olympics is slowed down and examined in the style of The Matrix's revolutionary bullet time. Samantha Smith, Richard Nixon, the Shroud of Turin, Igor Stravinsky, the Iargo from Handel's Xerxes, the resurrection of Lazarus, and the groundbreaking 1984 Apple Computer Super Bowl commercial are among the many disparate people and objects Barry uses to explore the multifaceted nature of existence.
Quan Barry, an assistant professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is the author of Asylum, which won the 2000 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. She has been awarded an NEA Fellowship as well as a 2003 Pushcart Prize. Her work has appeared in such publications as Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, and the New Yorker.