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Tory Dent; channeled horror of AIDS into poetry

NEW YORK -- Tory Dent, a poet and critic whose searing poems about living with AIDS won several awards, died Dec. 30 at her Manhattan home of an infection associated with AIDS. She was 47.

Since she was diagnosed as HIV positive at age 30, Ms. Dent published three books of poetry, ''What Silence Equals" (Persea Books) in 1993, ''HIV, Mon Amour" (Sheep Meadow Press) in 2000, and ''Black Milk" (Sheep Meadow Press), which came just weeks before her death.

''HIV, Mon Amour" won the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets. It contained unflinching accounts of her daily existence battling AIDS.

''Tory's work was especially important because so few people who are suffering physically as much as she was are able to communicate with the outside world the way she did," said Sean Harvey, her husband. ''She had sort of a preternatural drive to communicate the extent of her physical suffering."

The poet Adrienne Rich, a friend, said that in ''Black Milk," Ms. Dent was dealing with ''all kinds of not only opportunistic infections but experimental treatments with sometimes devastating side effects."

''It's as though she was able to convert her rage to live under this verdict of HIV into an art that was actually equal to it," Rich said.

Her editor, Stanley Moss, said, ''She was a great poet with or without AIDS."

She was born Victorine Dent in Wilmington, Del., and graduated from Barnard College in 1981.

In addition to her husband, Ms. Dent leaves a brother, Stephen of Riverside, Conn., and a sister, Melissa of Manhattan.

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