Barbaro, Beyond Brokenness

by Lyn Lifshin

From Texas Review Press

Available from Amazon or phone 1-800-826-8911

"Barbaro proved to be the ultimate hero — he died trying. This book of poems provides a fitting and lyrical tribute to the hero."
—Sean Clancy, author of Barbaro, the Horse Who Captured America's Heart and Saratoga Days.

"No one has written about race horses as beautifully and evocatively as Lyn Lifshin has done in this book on the tragic career of Barbaro and in her paean to the immortal Ruffian, The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian. Lifshin has been described by one reviewer as "frighteningly prolific," but, though that is an accurate description to be sure, her prolificacy does not in the least diminish the profundity and charming accessibility of her poems. Lifshin's observations of the unexpected rise and fall of Barbaro are acute and charged with empathy. These poems imbue the memory of Barbaro with a heroism that is exquisite and rare, a quality that is sorely lacking in this modern age of prosaic anxiety and despair."
— Joe LaRosa

"I loved this book! Lyn Lifshin's Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness tells the story of that gallant and tragic champion in words and phrases as soft as a child's tears. Lyn's love for the horse that touched so many so deeply is clear. Immersing oneself in her deft, loving writing is to once again be reminded why we are all stirred by the heart of a thoroughbred. The book made this reader smile, weep and remember the many wonderful aspects of Barbaro's life. Reading Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness is to once again be reminded of his greatness and his indomitable spirit, how much he touched us, and why we all regret that he wasn't able to complete his journey."
— George Rowand, author of Diary of a Dream

Lifshin has managed to capture the grandeur and heartbreak of this horse, the equine soul in flight — Beautiful! Just like his name, Barbaro.
— Laura Chester

For anyone who was moved by the gallant and heartbreaking saga of Barbaro, Lyn Lifshin's
Barbaro: Beyond Brokeness recreates in poetry both exquisite and passionate the legend of Barbaro. I can think of no other poet who writes so movingly about race horses.
—Laura Boss, Editor: Lips

Beyond Brokeness is full of such lyricism, full of such light splintering into every color real and imagined—to me your best work yet. The images are rich, bursting with life, even at the last. With The Licorice Daughter you were just getting warmed up for your foray into poetry about race horses. With this book you have hit your stride. The difference I think is that you lived in the same time as Barbaro, his world, knew him intimately and really while he lived, couldn't start your day without him. You were always in the company of people who were the same—you, and they, saw him break, felt that terrible wrench when the jockey pulled him up. You were there, always with him. That was the way it was with Ruffian, and I think that is what makes the difference. No matter, they are both wonderful volumes and I so glad to have them both.
— Linda Hopkins

For your summer reading list

Jul 9th, 2009
by Rick Snider

A few years ago, a local poet called me needing help publicizing her book to horse racing writers. I get calls like this all the time from those who think they have something to say and really don't.

I'm glad I didn't dismiss Lyn Lifshin's call. I know nothing about poetry and didn't realize she was such a big deal in her genre (I am a sports writer after all. We think all poems rhyme.) Her book on Ruffian was astounding.

Lyn's back with another book - Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness (Texas Review Press, $16.95). It's another enchanting read. From the colt's first steps to his final ones, the journey of the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner's fatal mistep in the Preakness is a touching read.

Lyn lives in Vienna so help a Washington writer. Visit her website or get the book from local bookstores or

Disclosure: I'm helping Lyn publicize the book because fellow racing writers need all the help they can get. But I wouldn't do it if it wasn't a good book.

Posted on
July, 2009

Review by Belinda Subraman

Barbaro’s birthdate, April 29, 2003 at Springmint Farm near Nicholasville, Kentucky and his death at New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, January 29, 2007 are already part of myth.

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Review by Hugh Fox

The amazing thing about this book is the way Lifshin transforms a horse named Barbaro into a human being.

By the time you get through reading the book, you are totally inside her psyche, feeling precisely the way she did about the championship abilities of Barbaro, his personality and his sad death.

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Review by Natalie Lobe

In each of nearly 150 poems about the famed racehorse, Barbaro, Lyn Lifshin brings a new slant, a separate nuance, another dimension. The total effect is overwhelming. This collection of poems reaches the reader at many levels: namely the story itself, the impact of beauty on our lives and the universality of grief.

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Last Updated: {date June 23, 2010 }