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Ghost Nets
John Wilkinson

2016 • 104 pp. 6 x 9"
Poetry / Poetry - American / Poetry - British & Irish

$17.95 Paperback, 978-1-63243-026-7

“Wilkinson’s poetry is characterized by its density—a term in the aesthetic philosophy of Nelson Goodman and others that refers to the degree of referential nuance in a verbal or... [continued in Reviews below]”—Daniel Tiffany, Boston Review

The first US collection of the acclaimed British poet

Ghost Nets is the first US collection by John Wilkinson. Ranging from brief lyrics to elaborately-structured long poems, the collection displays the intense musicality, syntactical intricacy and affective power characteristic of his poetry. But the political, social and economic crises of the period in the US shape Wilkinson’s writing in new ways, more vulnerable and more evidently responsive to others’ vulnerability.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Wilkinson’s poetry is characterized by its density—a term in the aesthetic philosophy of Nelson Goodman and others that refers to the degree of referential nuance in a verbal or pictorial artifact.  Photographs, for example, are potentially denser in their signifying capacity than verbal images (a picture is worth…), but Wilkinson’s poems crowd the lyric frame, zooming from microscopic detail to split-screen to bird’s eye—a tendency it shares with the poetry of Andrew Zawacki.”—Daniel Tiffany, Boston Review

“Where so much poetry that claims to 'show the world as it really is' disavows the strategies that it uses to make this showing palatable to its readers, Wilkinson gains moral authority by emphasizing that exploitation of each other and the environment is, now, etched into the fabric of the world. . . . this is poetry less about discovering our lost kinship with rocks and stones and trees than acknowledging our continuing complicity in fracking and pornography and state-sanctioned torture.”
—Jack Belloli

“The poems in Ghost Nets can be read as forms “in the dim light,” catching bits of language, reference, significance afloat in the abyssal culture. The result is not so much an accumulation as a sequence of entanglements, fraught but utterly exquisite, thanks to the sublime intelligence (Wilkinson’s, and also poetry’s) with which the entangled elements—physical, psychological, intellectual, social, political, atmospheric—are acknowledged. To read these works is to follow the drift, drag, and draw of the poems—ghost nets, sad in themselves but not by virtue of what they contain. That is inspiriting, inspiring.”—Lyn Hejinian, author of The Unfollowing

From the Book:


One was wax, one silk, one
metrically fluttered,
their moth-eaten slips shrunk,
wound round a rattly drum,
made sprightly round or
mount still unenclosed,
in common usage fungible:

insects corrugate my tongue,
eyes tickle, pollen, dust,
micro-organisms, leaf
hoppers compromise
the project, mess the article,
you’re breaking up, honestly
I can’t hear or see a thing.

Delegates may disregard
the fountain but they swig
each their own water, trudge
the slippery slope to
inspect a concrete channel
and its coping, sluggish
sinus bandaged tight in fire:

I’d been feeling wound up,
dug for gold but cut
worms aspirating earth,
sought autochthonous spirit.
Rains refresh the earth
before a cistern gulped or
ever stake was wagered,

small rain, pollen, round
on round of infiltrators
hissing steamy wastefulness,
difficult to catch right,
flux above my torpid drum.
This inky pacifical finger,
how shall it break the earth?

JOHN WILKINSON is a British poet who has had two distinct careers, in mental health services in the UK as a nurse, social worker, and policy maker, and subsequently as a university teacher in the US where he now chairs Creative Writing and Poetics at the University of Chicago. In historical, critical and reference works, John Wilkinson’s writing has come to be treated as a major force in recent British poetry.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 12:30:39 -0500