The poems of this fourth collection from Wayne Miller exist in the wake of catastrophe, thrumming with pathos and humor, pain and the beauty of living.
Post- coalesces around three primary occurrences: the birth of a child, the death of a father, and the seeming explosion of sociohistorical and political conflict and violence over the past fifteen years. Its world is one populated by rogue gunmen on shooting sprees, where the only inheritance a father has to pass on is his debt, where a car left in an airport parking lot and the coffee cup inside are more immediate presences of the dead. Young rioters leave chaos behind each evening, returning home to watch themselves on the evening news. The unzipping of snow from train tracks evokes the surgery of a family member. Lovers, drinking wine and rowing on a lake, find joy within and without a system that sees them only as consumers.
Beginnings and endings, loss and rebirth, body and spirit: in Post-, Miller processes grief, but also cuts through pain, gorgeously and heartbreakingly, to open up a way forward. Winter permeates these poems—and yet spring is always beckoning in the next.
Like this book? Sign up for occasional updates
Praise and Prizes
“Part stark elegy where the ghosts we carry are relentlessly tied to us, part unrelenting look into today’s world of social media, loneliness, and violence, and part fierce celebration of survival, Post- is a gorgeous and complex book of poems that both startles and soothes.”
“This is poetry at its most powerful: instrument of change, defense against the commonplace of mall shooters and hoax bombs, deeply entered wisdom of the body in both birth and dying, and bastion against loss and forgetting. Post- doesn’t take this century lying down; it is a ringing rejoinder to those who say poetry does not matter. In Wayne Miller’s lines, we hear the ancient magic of sorrow transformed to hope, elegy bent back around to ode.”
“In these poems, we see the way the world around us is layered by confrontation, love, and remembrance. And whether it is the birth of a child, the death of a father, the various ways we’ve found to kill each other, or the aftermath of a riot in response to those killings, we carry it all forward with us, in memory and action, and we give it to those who follow us.”
“Witty and solemn, stoic and nimble . . . Wayne Miller favors brief lines and couplets, but his tercets and quatrains are just as lithe and whipping. . . . In incisive, jolting poems of the here-and-now, he takes measure of debt as a legacy, and the repercussions of constant mass shootings. Shrewdly pithy and nuanced, edgy and commiserating, Miller’s poems are beacons.”
“In a fourth book that is as ambitious as his previous work, yet both quieter and sharper, Wayne Miller raises important questions about complicity and responsibility. . . . Miller often probes these personal and social issues in eerie, intimate lyrics. . . . As its plain yet audacious title suggests, Miller’s latest is both a development and a departure, and its best work elucidates contemporary life’s unsettling realities with an uncanny candor.”
“With unwavering insight, Post- breaks free of temporal, spatial, and ideological boundaries to show the thread of common humanity within all of us.”
“A fascinating and wonderful book . . . The poems have the function of all elegies: to lament, to praise, to console. What is most admirable about them is how they use a minimalist’s eye, bending tone and making the most of economy of language. . . . Post- is a work of serious craft.”
“Extraordinary poems, chilling in their incisive witnessing of social issues, wise in their perceptiveness about what it is to be human.”
“Volumes of Miller’s precise and resonant language flood every space within this book, creating a world of both gritty intensity and thoughtful poise. As a collection, Post- carries significant momentum, as the living spaces within it evolve and change as time surges forward.”
“Recent poets Miller brings to mind include Robert Hass and Louise Glück, and perhaps Czesław Miłosz. . . . Post- stands out among many recent collections.”