Synopses & Reviews
Eleanor Wilner’s sixth collection creates a mythology that sees a planet too small and a universe too immense to support humanity’s illusions of importance. Her poems become a “choral work of the imagination” in which science is re-envisioned, gender assumptions challenged and beliefs rigorously questioned. As the old gods are reabsorbed into the modern world, Wilner discovers new insights into culture and the human psyche.
“I have always treasured Wilner’s poetry for its visionary amplitude and revolutionary intelligence.”—Alicia Ostriker
Eleanor Rand Wilner is the author of six books of poetry and the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. She lives in Philadelphia, teaches at Warren Wilson College, and is a lifelong activist for civil rights and peace.
"Drawing heavily upon myth and ancient texts, Wilner finds the contemporary world has let the old gods down, and vice versa: 'We drop Cassandra's mantle in the dust. / The king will not return. The king is dead.' Here, Persephone is 'a poem we read one time in school,' and Aphrodite is a tired starlet with stretch marks. Many familiar figures pop up here, often in new configurations: Sappho has an exchange with Orpheus; later Orpheus meets up with Sir Walter Ralegh. The theme is consistent, however: 'Now that the Muses have traded their togas for faded rags... their thoughts wandering into clouds of theory, inspiration's exhaust.' Wilner's critique does not limit itself to the absence of myth; it often turns directly to the world as she sees it, a world that includes the Dionne quintuplets, ClearChannel and Slovenian critical theorist Slavoj Zizek. The language of these poems is plain, toneless, and often approaches prose; some poems eschew punctuation; most eschew the first person; many are written as one very long, clause-filled sentence, giving the impression of an elongated exhalation of breath: 'Our larval period underground... allows us to survive, and makes / our faded days seems almost bright.' This book seems intended to reveal the relative darkness in which such utterances are necessary." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Eleanor Wilner's sudden flights of lyricism are disarming and dazzling."--The New York Times
Poetry. Eleanor Wilner's sixth collection creates a mythology that sees a planet too small and a universe too immense to support humanity's illusions of importance. Her poems become a "choral work of the imagination" in which science is re-envisioned, gender assumptions challenged and beliefs rigorously questioned. As the old gods are reabsorbed into the modern world, Wilner discovers new insightes into culture and the human psyche. "I have always treasured Wilner's poetry for its visionary amplitude and revolutionary intelligence"--Alicia Ostriker.
About the Author
Eleanor Rand Wilner is the author of six books of poetry and a critical book on visionary imagination. She holds a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. Her poems are widely anthologized and awards include a grant from the MacArthur Fellowship and the Juniper Prize. She currently teaches in the MFA program at Warren Wilson College and is Writer-in-Residence at Smith College. She is a lifelong activist for civil rights and peace.