It Is If I Speak

Joe Wenderoth

New poems from the most iconoclastic poet of his generation. In the epigraph to Joe Wenderoth's new volume of poetry, a herdsman, exhorted by Oedipus to speak the truth, replies "It is if I speak that I will be destroyed." Wenderoth's poetry is sparse, nihilistic — and sometimes witty. Publishers Weekly wrote that, "Like Stevens, Wenderoth has a passion for philosophical ideas; at the same time he follows Williams' dictum: no ideas but in things. The result is poetry that is intellectually charged but whose final fidelity is to the senses." His new book has the dignity of a sincere and ferocious despair. In the narratives of these poems, "owing is all that really happens," and lives are shaped by the refusal to "sink dumbly into tolerance of a spectacle." "In a courageous follow-up to Disfortune (1995), Wenderoth populates his poems with austere voices that assert a strange and prophetic authority over us even as they seem naive, almost nascent . . . Cumulatively, the voice and vision of these poems suggest an up-to-the-minute Kafka; Wenderoth presents a deadeningly organized world and scrutinizes it for untouched lyricism." — Boston Review "Wenderoth's exquisite evocations of finely discriminated loss offer moody evasions of concrete statement, electing paradox and abstraction . . . Much praised for his 1995 debut, Disfortune, Wenderoth shows himself in this second volume to be a competent inheritor of an abstraction-wearied symbolist tradition many had given up for dead." — Publishers Weekly

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