Chain Letter of the Soul

The Chain Letter of the Soul

New and Selected Poems
“One of the few living writers I revere rather than merely read.” —JIM HARRISON
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Musician. Curmudgeon. Trailblazer. Prairie populist. Teacher. World traveler. Cultural critic. Humanitarian. Scholar. Skeptic. Insightful humorist. Charismatic speaker. Firebrand. Seer. Bill Holm was never afraid to say what was on his mind, and the readers of his more than a dozen books are all the better for it.

Collecting the best and the latest poems from Bill Holm’s oeuvre, The Chain Letter of the Soul paints a portrait of a man of great heart, broad vision, and startling prescience. Fans will recognize many of their favorites, and new readers will be introduced to an enduring voice of American literature.

In 2008, Bill Holm provided the phrase for the title of this new and selected volume of poems: “For it is life we want. We want the world, the whole beautiful world, alive—and we alive in it. That is the actual god we long for and seek, yet we have already found it, if we open our senses, our whole bodies, thus our souls. That is why I have written and intend to continue until someone among you takes up the happy work of keeping the chain letter of the soul moving along into whatever future will come.” Ultimately, in recording the individual observations of later life in this context, Holm confounds mortality by honoring a sense of an organic system that extends beyond birth and death.

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5.5 × 8.5 × 0.63 in
10 oz

Bill Holm

Bill Holm was born in 1943 on a farm outside Minneota, Minnesota. He received a BA from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1965 and an MA from the University of Kansas in 1967.

Praise and Prizes

  • The Chain Letter of the Soul gathers together the best of Bill Holm’s work.”

    Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  • “Bill Holm’s is a classic American voice… . It’s the voice of the prairie radical, the village agnostic, toting volumes of Walt Whitman.”

    Los Angeles Times
  • “You’ll find old favorites from his earlier Boxelder Bug Variations, The Dead Get by With Everything and Playing the Black Piano, but it’s in his new poems, which Bill Holm wrote in the years immediately preceding his 2009 death, where you’ll hear his voice sharper than ever.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune
  • “Bill Holm was the sage of Minneota, a colleague of Whitman though born a hundred years too late, a champion of Mozart and Bach… . He thundered with the best of them though he had a gentle heart… . I hope his Icelandic ancestors are waiting to welcome him to their rocky corner of heaven. I hope his piano goes to someone who will love it as much as he did. I hope that people all across Minnesota will pick up one of his books and see what the man had to say.”

    Garrison Keillor
  • “Readers will progress no more than a few pages before understanding that in Bill Holm beats a great, compassionate heart.”

    Internet Review of Books