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The Missing Essay

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Marisa Anne Pagnattaro, J.D., Ph.D. in English, is a freelance writer and a Robert E. West Teaching Fellow in the English Department at the University ofGeorgia. In the following essay, Pagnattaro explores Gunn's attempt to come to terms with the loss of friends who died from AIDS.

When Thom Gunn was unanimously awarded the Lenore Marshall/Nation poetry prize for The Man with Night Sweats, U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky described Gunn's talent as "distinctive genius—clear, direct but always with something in reserve, generous toward weakness, dryly deflating of cant, a purely focused flame of perception." The Man with Night Sweats was widely hailed for its deft treatment of the AIDS epidemic from the perspective of an insider in San Francisco's gay community. Born in England, Gunn moved to California in 1954 for a creative writing fellowship atStanford University. Gunn studied under the well-known literary...

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