“Full of wonder and bewilderment, cosmic vision and earthly pain.” —RICK BAROT
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In Wilder—selected by Rick Barot as the winner of the 2018 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry—Claire Wahmanholm maps an alien but unnervingly familiar world as it accelerates into cataclysm. Here refugees listen to relaxation tapes that create an Arcadia out of tires and bleach. Here the alphabet spells out disaster and devours children. Here plate tectonics birth a misery rift, spinning loved ones away from each other across an uncaring sea. And here the cosmos—and Cosmos, as Carl Sagan’s hopeful words are fissured by erasure—yawns wide.

Wilder is grimly visceral but also darkly sly; it paints its world in shades of neon and rust, and its apocalypse in language that runs both sublime and matter-of-fact. “Some of us didn’t have lungs left,” writes Wahmanholm. “So when we lay beneath the loudspeaker sky—when we were told to pay attention to our breath—we had to improvise.” The result is a debut collection that both beguiles and wounds, whose sky is “black at noon, black in the afternoon.”

Publish Date
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Claire Wahmanholm

Claire Wahmanholm is the author of Meltwater, Redmouth, and Wilder, which won the Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry and the Society of Midland Authors Award for Poetry, and was a finalist for the 2019 Minnesota Book Award.

Praise and Prizes

  • Wilder is a lyric and formally daring collection.”

    Poets & Writers
  • “Wahmanholm’s careful curation of words and sounds cradle the reader … The poems in Wilder are powerful and compelling, interested not only in confronting the rifts in our history and landscape, but connecting us to each other.”

    Arkansas International
  • “Wahmanholm moves lyrically through an apocalyptic disaster in her stunning and disquieting debut… . Wahmanholm’s poems are studies in devastation and stark representations of the accompanying shock.”

    Publishers Weekly
  • “Terrifying and beautiful.”

  • Wilder is a stark and uncompromising meditation on the apocalyptic present. A haunting debut.”

    Stephen Sparks
    Little Infinite
  • “Claire Wahmanholm channels the singular voice of H. D. as she travels us through a landscape wounded, this time not by the industrial military complex, but by the industrial greed complex. Wahmanholm’s gorgeous, epic lyric breathes across time and place, self and other, blame and consequence.”

    Rebecca Gayle Howell
  • “Here we are implicated in a never-ending journey—emerging from the underneath of things, the excavations of the world, the lightless places that lead to the sea. There is an abundance of being lost, of encroaching upon apocalyptic moments, of falling back to burning music. In Wilder, we are feral children left to our own shared devices, led on circular treks through one exquisitely strange illusion after another.”

    Sun Yung Shin
  • “Claire Wahmanholm’s Wilder is bewildering and born of collapse. These searing poems spring not only from the end but from the imagined after, excavating from the ruins of this world ‘the birds swooping from the trees to land / beside their own bones, // our bodies reaching down to grab our shadows by the hands.’ I cannot recall a collection of poems that thrilled and devastated me more.”

    Maggie Smith
  • “Long after I finished reading Wilder, I was in grief that its beauty had ended, and also in grief over the spoiled world it describes. The poems in this book seem like the texts written by an ancient collective—texts that are at once full of wonder and bewilderment, cosmic vision and earthly pain.”

    Rick Barot
  • “In Wilder, Claire Wahmanholm invents a language of disintegrating futures, using poems to take us through unraveling fairytales and the volatile terrain of our unraveling planet. Written in 2018, the book feels like a premonition of what is to come … What I appreciate most about these speakers is their impulse to move closer to one another. It’s a reminder to me to do the same.”

    MAYDAY Magazine