The Farrar, Straus and Giroux Poetry Blog

April 09, 2009

Jonathan Galassi on Susan Wheeler

Wheeler This year for National Poetry Month, FSG Publisher Jonathan Galassi has agreed to say a few words about our upcoming poetry collections. You can expect his comments here every Tuesday and Thursday for the rest of the month.

One of our new poetry offerings this spring is Susan Wheeler’s ASSORTED POEMS, Everything about this book—from the title itself to Robert Lostutter’s brooding giant birdman on the jacket—is arresting and rewarding. To me, Susan’s work represents a bright, moving, highly articulate refreshment of poetic language. 

She’s funny, she feels deeply, but above all it’s the washed-clean rightness of her very lines and syllables that draws me in. When you read her you sit up and take notice because every word is spanking fresh and hospital-corner neat. Nobody sounds anything like her.

Reflected Sonnet

A verdant swale appeared to me—
disburdened of perspicacity—
but sunset vaulted o’er. What kine
left the budded quicks will in time
lack the evening star, bedded fast
beyond the gable-wall, and copsed
in barn-light’s slumbrous, languid air.

From fane, then, to meet you there,
Light glinting through the trees, and moss
Soft underfoot, soft leaves, I crost
‘til, gleaming in a bower’s frame,
in golds, alit, the riverbank,
long light shaking o’er river’s glass,
charged me light where now you pass.

How arresting, and rewarding, is that? The sonnet just isn’t the same (sane?) when she gets her hands onnet.

I wanted to do this book with Susan to see how poets like Kleinzahler, Glück, Bidart, Walcott, and Wright read, reflected in her light—and vice versa. I think it’s a truly enthralling conversation.


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