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Distributed for CavanKerry Press

The History Hotel

Formally innovative poems that engage with history and the individual.

In his eleventh poetry collection, Baron Wormser offers the wide range of subjects and imaginative approaches that his readers have come to expect. Touching on topics such as the Jewish resistance, Godard films, and the National Football League, The History Hotel opens the door to both political and personal histories. This collection also introduces us to unforgettable characters—we follow alongside speakers as they drive through Kansas, as they memorize Shakespeare sonnets, and as they rehearse a love affair that went south.

As Wormser’s collection reminds us, the historical circumstances that touch, strengthen, or shatter a life are also key to understanding it. We all live in the History Hotel, where love, betrayal, hope, and despair go hand in hand. Showing those entangled hands is the work of these poems—poems that are alive to tradition but consistently inventive along the way.

80 pages | 6 x 9


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The History Hotel carries a mixture of quiet humor and hard-nosed insight. There’s little decoration here, no fluff to deflect our attention from what we know that we know—just the energetic presence of Wormser’s consistently cool, keen sensibility that is both bewildered and wise. It’s easy to forget the good work words can do. Line by line, these poems resuscitate our weathered, better selves and the ability to see beyond the lurid surfaces that slowly but surely overwhelm our lives. If the current times offer us a steady stream of absurdities, if we intend to hold onto a sense of compassion while trying to make a sensible way through these days, The History Hotel has cleared a rough path for us.”

Tim Seibles, author of 'Fast Animal' and 'One Turn Around the Sun'

“‘Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate,’ wrote Shakespeare, and in The History Hotel Wormser does just that, beholding the world’s weariness with a thousand-yard stare and an eloquence that can spit nails or rain feathers. These all-too-aware poems have something sanguine to report: amid the soul-flattening wreckage of ‘greedy nations,’ somehow there is still amorous folly, chatter, longing, picnics in graveyards, childhood, and art. The History Hotel feels like poetry written at the event horizon of a black hole, in the stark light of a Hopper painting.”

Diana Goetsch, author of 'This Body I Wore'

“Wormser is a master wizard of world poetry and his stories in The History Hotel will frighten and exhilarate you while serving their forbidden and diabolic fruit. Wormser is writing here beyond the best of his already celebrated powers established early in his career with the American classic The White Words. In these new poems, each one a multi-faceted diamond of irony, pathos, nostalgia, wit, and wisdom, Wormser is riotously and painfully funny as the world teeters on its axis and hurtles towards oblivion, observing in ‘Ode to the Stock Exchange’ ‘that the earth was the cash / machine of the universe awaiting travelers from / other galaxies in need of a loan.’ In his elegy for the great Polish poet Zagajewski—and reading Wormser we enter a landscape smoldering after bombing, or hurtling on its own blind volition—Wormser finds a way to acknowledge the positive side of the two-faced coin and contradiction of human action; ‘Thank you, you said to Life / and somewhat remarkably she thanked you back.’ In this glorious volume written at the tail end of a comet sweeping dangerously close to earth, Wormser is building a house for today's inclement weather, thanking life in line after line for the chance to comment on the follies of its self-deluded and failed human stewards.”

Indran Amirthanayagam, author of 'Ten Thousand Steps Against the Tyrant'

Table of Contents



Now and then it rains money
Ode to the Stock Exchange
NFL Poem (Annals of Male Americana)
The New Wave
Elegy for the Poet Adam Zagajewski


State Song
On a Foreseen Death, August 4, 1962
Dog Is My Co-Pilot
For Raymond Lévy
A Memorable Occasion: Opening the Doors
Upon the Death of the Actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, from “Acute Drug Intoxication”
Reasons of State


Night, Apartment Towers, Manhattan
Two Painters:
1. Hopperesque
2. John Singer Sargent
Venus Aligned with Mars
A Certain Teacher Does Some Banking
The Shuffle


And You, Thomas Hardy
Two Songs:
1. Outtake from Cymbeline
2. Dylanesque
Say “Uncle”
Self-Portrait with Ball
Ode to Worry
On Empire
Lament for an Accountant (1959)
“When I have seen by time’s fell hand defaced”


1. Opium Den
2. Plein Air
The Bodyguard
Herr Plath-Doktor
Recalling Sophocles
“I Have Themistocles the Athenian”
Pandemic, Nursing Home, Wisconsin, November, 2020
The History Hotel

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