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Elizabeth Willis

Wesleyan Poetry Series

2011 • 80 pp. 6 x 8"

$15.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-7348-3
$25.00 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-7098-7

$12.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7099-4

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

Elizabeth Willis's language in Address is both brilliantly chatty and essentially nondiscursive. It proceeds by anaphora and listing, by surprise and non sequitur, makes you laugh out loud at the... [continued in Reviews below]”—Richard Silberg, Poetry Flash

New poems from an original and challenging American voice

Address draws us into visible and invisible architectures, into acts of intimate and public address. These poems are concentrated, polyvocal, and sharply attentive to acts of representation; they take personally their politics and in the process reveal something about the way civic structures inhabit the imagination. Poisonous plants, witches, anthems, bees—beneath their surface, we glimpse the fragility of our founding, republican aspirations and witness a disintegrating landscape artfully transformed. If a poem can serve as a kind of astrolabe, measuring distances both cosmic and immediate, temporal and physical, it does so by imaginative, nonlinear means. Here, past and present engage in acts of mutual interrogation and critique, and within this dynamic Willis’s poetry is at once complexly authoritative and searching: “so begins our legislation.”

Check for the online reader’s companion at

Check for the online reader’s companion at

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Elizabeth Willis's language in Address is both brilliantly chatty and essentially nondiscursive. It proceeds by anaphora and listing, by surprise and non sequitur, makes you laugh out loud at the deftness of its wit, then dangles you over an emotive abyss, then stops you in your tracks before suggestive blankness.”—Richard Silberg, Poetry Flash

"Humorous, political, engaged, and deeply resonant—at the end you’ll start again."Jeffrey Cyphers Wright, Brooklyn Rail

Address is mischievous enough to be pleasurable, dangerous enough to keep you alert, and just strange enough to provide the good company you didn’t know you were missing until it arrived to greet you.”
—Jeanne Marie Beaumont, citation, PEN New England Award

“The poems assay the fraught American climate—addressing the deep injustices and missed communications that mark our contemporary social moment. …Willis has the finest ear for the lyric amongst her generation. … (T)he intense beauty of the work is an unblinking testament to the poet’s sense that the stakes for language are becoming impossibly high. Address shows us that music, too, can have an undeniable ferocity.” —Richard Deming, Boston Review

“Willis’s address is unmistakable: these are poems that ‘tell you what you’ve done.’”
Publishers Weekly

“How Willis situates her poems in an experimental tradition is useful for thinking through the formal parallels and divergences between queer time and the temporal orientations of experimental poetics.”—Davy Knittle, Jacket2

“The reader must stay with Willis all the way to grasp her often unexpected associations, her wide-ranging artistic and political references, and her insistence that the reader has something of acivic duty to engage in the discussion. It’s worth the trip.”Carol Bere, Women’s Review of Books

“In the engagement with current poetic record and its heresies, Address arrives at an environment fraught with an argument it creates by also refuting it. … It feels inevitable that Address ends with the possibility of going out of ourselves and addresses by harnessing materials from our discontinuities into an opening.” Fancisco “Kokoy” Guevara, Jacket2

“Willis newly revives the list/litany form, and that works to the reader’s delight. Edged flowers or berries in transparent wax: what the words are like. So we have the forest, along with a quite ruined New England/America. And if one is a traditional Witch, does or doesn’t it help? . . . Keeper of the ‘black poppy,’ poetry.”Alice Notley, author of Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems, 1970-2005

“How does the poem address both self and world? How does it address at once the light and the dark of things as they are? And from what site–-or address–-can it possibly speak in the profoundly unstable currents of our time? Such are among the eternal issues Elizabeth Willis movingly explores here by means of an unflinching ‘devotion / to the ungoverned,’ that is, by means of the poetic imagination itself.”Michael Palmer, author of The Lion Bridge

From the Book:


I’m thinking of
the heat in the reins
a gear in love with itself
two parts that fit
I’m thinking about your face:
there’s nothing to invent
Driven to distraction
or just walking there
The edge of my mind
against the edge of yours
An astrolabe isn’t thinking
of a concrete lane
or unconquerable interior
Abiding by its class
and country church, a kitsch picture
is not “sincerity”
though I am native to it
A nation has this sound
of being born The human
is not its ill-begotten ad
A hemisphere is not your hair
in its Parisian rooms
An astrolabe is not
a metaphor for love
though love contain the mortal roots
of congress, like a peasant
inside the name you give its ruins


Winner of the Laurence L. & Thomas Winship / PEN New England Award (2012)

ELIZABETH WILLIS is the author of four previous books including Meteoric Flowers, Turneresque, and The Human Abstract. She is Shapiro-Silverberg Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Wesleyan University.

This project is supported in part by an award from
National Endowment for the Arts

Fri, 9 Nov 2018 09:31:14 -0500