Tourist in Hell
Eleanor Wilner’s poems attempt to absorb the shock of the wars and atrocities of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. In their litany of loss, in their outrage and sorrow, they retain the joy in life, mercy for the mortal condition, and praise for the plenitude of nature and the gifts of human artistry.
As with her six earlier collections, these poems are drawn from the transpersonal realm of history and cultural memory, but they display an increasing horror at the bloody repetitions of history, its service of death, and the destructive savagery of power separated from intelligence and restraint. The poems describe “a sordid drama” in which the players wear “eyeless masks,” and the only thing time changes is the name of the enemy. Underneath it all, driving “the art that” in both senses “keeps nothing at bay,” swim the enormous formal energies of life, the transitive figure that moves on in the depths, something glimpsed in the first light, something stronger than hope.
“It is a relief to come across work in which a moral intelligence is matched by aesthetic refinement, in which the craft of the poems is equal to their concerns.”--Christian Wiman, Poetry
History as Crescent Moon
Opening the Eyes
Wreck and rise above
In a Time of War
In That Dawn
After the Tsunami
What It Hinges On
Thinking about Unamuno’s San Manuel Bueno, Mártir
Back Then, We Called It “The War”
The Show Must Go On
Rendition, with Flag
Postcard with Statue of Liberty, No Message
Cold Dawn of the Day When Bush Was Elected for a Second Term
The Raven’s Text
Voices from the Labyrinth
Meditation on DNA with Gene Splices from Shakespeare’s Sonnets
An Ode to Asymmetry
To Think What We Might Have . . .
Four Flats, Getting Dark Soon, Nothing to Do but Walk
Like I really like that
Encounter in the Local Pub
What loves, takes away
Restored to Blue
Vermeer’s Girl, a Restoration
Trees, even at this distance
the palest flowers / ash, snow . . .
Larger to Those Who Stay
Welcome to the dollar bin
Meditation on Lines from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)
Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On
The Morning After
Of a Word
Headlong for That Fair Target
Mine eyes have seen the glory of . . .
“This is a big, moving, and intellectually satisfying collection by one of our most humane, wise, and intelligent poets.”
“In Tourist in Hell, Wilner visits zones of torment and brutality—not because she relishes them, but because they open inexorably under her feet as she goes about the business of being human. An extraordinary volume, one that marks a new, compressed ferocity in Wilner’s project of poetic witness. It feels to me like a necessary book.”