Paperback. NYRB/ Poets (2015).
American poet Elizabeth Willis has written an electrifying body of work spanning more than twenty years. With a wild and inquisitive lyricism, Willis—“one of the most outstanding poets of her generation” (Susan Howe)—draws us into intricate patterns of thought and feeling. The intimate and civic address of these poems is laced with subterranean affinities among painters, botanists, politicians, witches and agitators. Coursing through this work is the clarity and resistance of a world that asks the poem to rise to this, to speak its fury.
Willis offers the penetrating musings and sometimes fragmented syntax of a contemporary Emily Dickinson but can feel like a spirited surrealist…Starting stringently and getting richer with cultural and political references as it proceeds, this Selected offers gems from five collections and culminates in a dozen new or uncollected pieces. Grab it.
—Library Journal, starred review
More people should be reading Elizabeth Willis, one of our most gifted and historically attuned poets.
—Jennifer Chang, Los Angeles Review of Books
Willis’s poetry offers a site where the lyrical and social collide in productive ways, where epiphany is short-circuited just as it is about to “transcend” experience, where the political runs aground on, against, implacable language, implacable “experience.”
—Tyrone Williams, Bird Dog
An amazing collision of the vulnerable and the mighty, the perishable and the explosive, the mundane and the cosmic.
—Stefania Heim, Boston Review
About the Author
Elizabeth Willis is the author of Address (2011), which received the PEN New England/L. L. Winship Prize, and four previous books of poetry. Her second book, The Human Abstract (1995), was selected for the National Poetry Series. A recent Guggenheim fellow in poetry, she teaches at Wesleyan University.