Synopses & Reviews
A poet, activist, and mother traces her path as we careen toward this perilous moment in American political and civic life.
Wendy Willis is one of our country's sharpest observers of politics, art, and the American spirit. Her view is honed by her place as a mother, a poet, and when necessary, as an activist. Together, the essays in Field Notes from the Republic work within that largely unmapped place where the heartbreaks and uncertainties of one's inner life brush up against the cruelties and responsibilities of politics and government.
Her pointed and wide-ranging essays explore everything from personal resistance to the rise of political podcasts, civic loneliness to the exploitation of personal data, public outrage to the opioid crisis--all with a poet's gift to finding the sacred in the mundane, a hope in the dark. Even the titles to her essays hint at the lyrical complexities within: "A Million People on One String: Big Data and the Poetic Imagination," "Peeping in the Crack under the Goddamn Door: One Citizen's Reflections on The Phenom that is S-Town 94," "Reckoning with the Bros: Donald Trump, Robert Bly and Swimming in the Sea of Grief," "I Hear the Place That Can't Be Named: One Writer's Reflections on the Right to Be Forgotten."
For many, it feels as if Americans have never before been involved in a situation where every day brings a loud new threat to our public order and to our commonwealth. Our executive branch is demanding our scrutiny on a daily, even hourly, basis. Again and again, Wendy Willis returns to the demanding question posed by Czech writer, activist, and politician Vaclav Havel: What does it mean to live in truth? As a way to hear this question and to begin an answer, Willis circles around it, to realize her duties and reactions to truth and power as a woman, a mother, a lawyer and a poet — as an American.
"Her best essays combine rigor with sensory observation, ranging widely among varied interests... A compassionate, measured voice that serves as an antidote to strident pontificating." Kirkus Reviews
"Offers a unique vision for life in such challenging times... Willis’s nuanced and interior approach to politics is a welcome departure from the harsh rhetoric so popular today. Even readers who disagree with her will appreciate her sincerity and experiences as a mother, lawyer, and author." Library Journal
About the Author
WENDY WILLIS is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. Winner of the Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize, she has published two books of poetry and in journals, including New England Review, Oregon Humanities, Poetry Northwest, The Rumpus, Zócalo Public Square, and ZYZZYVA. Willis is a lawyer, the executive director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, and the founder and director of Oregon's Kitchen Table.