10/05/2012 03:50 PM
BATON ROUGE – William Wenthe’s third collection, “Words Before Dawn,” available this
month from LSU Press, begins in the domestic realm then moves outward in subject and
place – to a bird market in Paris, the Jaffa Gate in Old Jerusalem, the Chain Bridge
in Budapest – before returning to the familial. The poet recalls his own cherished
experiences of fatherhood: rocking his infant daughter in the early morning, lying
with her outside on a pink flannel sheet, and watching her joyous reaction to the
sight of roses.
While actively engaged in the artist’s struggle to represent reality, Wenthe draws
attention to the particular, to moments and events that seem to exist beyond thoughts
and words. In “Uhte,” Wenthe reflects on the Old English name for the hour before
dawn: “that word / has haunted me – wondering how that hour / had first called forth
a need / to be distinguished by a sound.”
In well-crafted free verse, traditional meter and rhyme, prose poems, and nonce forms,
Wenthe meditates on family, language, art, history, and the natural world.
Wenthe is the author of “Not Till We Are Lost” and “Birds of Hoboken.” He has published widely in literary journals, and received Pushcart Prizes and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Born and raised in New Jersey, he now teaches at Texas Tech University.
Posted on Friday, October 5, 2012