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In WHAT WE PASS ON: COLLECTED POEMS: 1980-2009, Maria Mazziotti Gillan weaves a tapestry of one woman's life—wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, grand-daughter, Italian American. Reading these poems in one volume makes us acutely aware of how memory is layered, each new poem adding another detail, another color, another perspective so that we watch as the poet and the people around her change. With increasing clarity and honesty, Gillan peels away all the self-protective layers and invites us in so we can see in her story a reflection of our own. Her work in all its texture and exuberance, its passion and power, forces us to care about what matters and teaches us to be human. This is a poet who, in these courageous poems, teaches us why poetry matters and why it can change us.