Smoking in the Twilight Bar_2Details
Publisher : United Artists Books; 1st Edition
Publication Date : April 1, 1988
ISBN : ISBN: 0-935992-077
Category : Poetry, Poems
Product Dimensions : 00 x 00 inches
Paperback : 92 pages
Cover Art : Harriette Hartigan

Order directly from United Artists Books,  Small Press Distribution, 1-800-869-7553 ; or


“This is a book of linked glimpses into urban working lives after dark, and in its presentation and tone it may be unique. Moving from bars to poolhalls to bedrooms, the intelligent and observant guide and narrator gives us a world of violence and sexuality that is understood but never judged. It is a powerful and memorable act of witnessing”-Charles Baxter.

Shaped like the spaces of open windows, Henning’s works are snapshots of a stark reality, squares of light on a dark wall.  Her bold black and white scenarios are of tough, durable women, barefaced and vulnerable survivors. She has written their pictures.–Maureen Owen.

These are poems with a very hard edge to them. Be warned: this is not a book for those who want poetry to laud some kind of idealized fantasy of what life should be. This is a poet who has been around the block a few times and she is not about to make compromises with what she sees as the truth of human existence. This is a book of unvarnished reality. . . These are our ghosts, the millions of America’s metropolitan flotsam, whose sheer numbers alone make their story worth consideration, but who are hardly ever the stuff of poetry.  Thomas Strand. Smoking in the Twilight Bar. Poetic Space: Poetry & Fiction. 1989. Vol 4, No. 6.

Smoking in the Twilight Bar is a collection of tales of the nocturnal lives of working women, an intelligent and sensitive portrayal of the urban night. Moving from bars to poolhalls to bedrooms, the stories are of violence and sexuality, understood but not judged. Like glimpses from the street through lighted windows, these brief paragraphs are at first discontinuous; they evolve, gradually, into narrative the way lives come together to make a city.” Small Press Distribution Catalog, 1989.

Strand, Thomas. Review of Smoking in the Twilight Bar. In Poetic Space: Poetry & Fiction 4:6 (1989).

Barb’s Master’s thesis, a set of prose poems called “Ghost Poems,” is a remarkable piece of work. I have never read anything quite like it anywhere. In a tone of frozen detached irony–though it is not quite irony–the prose-poems detail a world of poolhalls, bars, rented rooms, speedways and backyards frequented by the dispossessed and unemployed, and Dostoyevskian “insulted and injured.” The observer-protagonist is typically presented as a ghost, a person whose personhood is slipping away, and in narrative after narrative, the women and men of these poems make quick sexual efforts to make connections, efforts that are often left in an odd kind of suspension. I admire these poems tremendously and feel that they ought to be published as a group; they certainly deserve it. Charlie Baxter 6/1981, Thesis Advisor, Wayne State University.

<< Back Book list