Dent, Tory 1958-

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DENT, Tory 1958-


Born 1958; married; husband's name, Sean Harvey. Education: Attended Barnard College; New York University, M.A.


Home—New York, NY and Maine. Agent—c/o Author Mail, University Press of New England, One Court St., Lebanon, NH 03766.


Poet, essayist, and art critic.


Awarded three International Association of Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists, and Novelists (PEN) grants for Writers with AIDS; James Laughlin Award, Academy of American Poets, 1999, and finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award, both for HIV, Mon Amour; Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund grant; New York Foundation for the Arts grant; Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award; Witter Bynner Fellow in Poetry, Library of Congress, 2001; fellow at MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo.


(Author of text) Rick Baitz, The Riverfisher: Part I, for Soprano & Mezzo-Soprano, Digital Synthesizer, and Double Chamber Ensemble, (thesis), University Microfilms (Ann Arbor, MI), 1992.

What Silence Equals (poems), with an introduction by Sharon Olds, Persea Books (New York, NY), 1993.

HIV, Mon Amour (poems), Sheep Meadow Press (Riverdale-on-Hudson, NY), 1999.

Contributor of poetry to periodicals, including Antioch Review, Fence, Kalliope, Paris Review, Pequod, and Ploughshares; contributor of poetry to anthologies, including Life Sentences (1994), In the Company of My Solitude (1995), and Things Shaped in Passing (1997); contributor of art criticism to periodicals, including Arts, Flash Art, and Parachute. Essay "The Deferred Dream" appeared in anthology Bearing Life: Women's Writings on Childlessness, edited by Rochelle Ratner, Feminist Press, 2001.


A memoir, Many Rivers to Cross.


Poet, essayist, and art critic Tory Dent has been the recipient of a number of awards and fellowships. She has published two books of poetry, What Silence Equals and HIV, Mon Amour. The latter received the James Laughlin Award, given by Academy of American Poets. Diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the early 1990s, Dent writes about her experiences living with HIV and finding a way to continue her creative work while battling the disease.

The title of What Silence Equals is taken from a slogan introduced by the AIDS activist group Act Up, meaning silence about the epidemic could equal death. In the volume, Dent expresses her anger and fear on learning she has the disease. "Hers is a truth-telling that shows its teeth," said Calvin Bedient in a review for Parnassus. He continued, "The sense of emergency crossed by the objectionable truth leads to a style 'livid' and 'mad' in both senses." A contributor to Publishers Weekly found that the poems' "long lines are chopped-up prose… bear no traces of lyricism." Adrian Oktenberg, writing in the Women's Review of Books, pointed out that after Dent's infection with HIV, her poetry, always serious, changed, and that she became "a prophet of extremity, crying in the wilderness of a new world." What Silence Equals, said Oktenberg, "is as difficult, demanding and extreme as its subject, and fully equal to the crisis it describes. In searing poem after searing poem, without lessening the tension or giving any kind of relief, Dent describes exactly and precisely what it is like to be in her skin, in her head." Dent writes in the poem "At the Dark End of the Street": "What brilliant tactic to camouflage / itself in the heart of the man I loved." Oktenberg called the book "one of the great, necessary books to come out of the AIDS crisis."

In HIV, Mon Amour, Dent continues to write about her struggle with HIV. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted the collection's "constant supply of cultural allusions" and said it "records, unflinchingly, the mind's desperate clingings to life" as the poet describes her many medical visits and her day-to-day life with the disease. Likewise, Barbara Hoffert, in Library Journal, praised the book as one that "radiates with unrepressed life."



Dent, Tory, What Silence Equals, with an introduction by Sharon Olds, Persea Books (New York, NY), 1993.


Lambda Book Report, May, 1994, review of What Silence Equals, p. 46.

Library Journal, April 15, 2000, Barbara Hoffert, review of HIV, Mon Amour, p. 94.

Parnassus, Volume 20, numbers 1-2, 1995, Calvin Bedient, "These AIDS Days," p. 225.

Publishers Weekly, November 8, 1993, review of What Silence Equals, p. 71; October 25, 1999, review of HIV, Mon Amour, pp. 76-77.

Women's Review of Books, April, 1995, Adrian Oktenberg, "The Facts of Death," p. 10.


Academy of American Poets Web site, (October 22, 2003), "Tory Dent."

Cortland Review, (October 22, 2002), "Grace Cavalieri Talks with Tory Dent."

University Press of New England Web site, (October 22, 2003), "Tory Dent."*

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Dent, Tory 1958-

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