Human Nature

104 pages

December, 1994

ISBN: 9780814706336



Also available in


Literary Studies


Alice Anderson was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1966. She holds a BA in English from California State University, Sacramento, and an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. She has lived in Paris, Geneva, Milan, and Osaka, and is currently residing in Northern California.

All books by Alice Anderson

Human Nature explores, both seductively and horrificly, the redemptive possibilities found in an American girlhood gone wrong. Every one of Anderson's poems tells a story—dangerous, sensuous, sometimes crazy, sometimes sacred tales that take us into the heartbreaking reality and strangeness of a little girl who grew up the woman of the house; at once drink-maker, showpiece, secret-keeper, and object of lust.

The terrain of incest and violence sets itself out on the page so subtely and plainly that the poems become mere containers for these extremes, a kind of prayer. Where formal grace might seem impossible, Anderson sings. And this is why the book —with all its darkness and danger—is, in the end, an affirmative one. The poems rise out of childhood's sorrows into a womanhood filled with the past, hell-bent on the future, and ready for a fight. In haunting, elegant verse, Anderson enters into the truth of experience. Through it all, the poems come to embrace those universal illuminations that arise out of--or even because of--suffering.


  • "Beware all those who enter here. Anderson's remarkable first like an outcropping of hell--the reader is compelled by fascination and horror to keep reading...Anderson's life force is implicit in the language throughout these poems, objective, exact, charged with an emotional force given only to those who have been to hell and returned to tell the tale."

    Publishers Weekly