Now available from Stephen F. Austin State University Press:
A History of Glass: Finalist, Stephen F. Austin State University Press National Poetry Book Contest, 2010
The ostensible subjects in Bryan Walpert’s second collection of poetry—a finalist in the Stephen F. Austin State University Press manuscript award—are as varied as wildflowers and rivers, the Big Bang and cosmic dust, and, as signaled by the title, an assortment of windows, a collection of shot glasses, a glass blower. But if “sometimes windows / are just windows” as Walpert insists at one point, things are in fact rarely as they appear in these poems: beneath their tempered surfaces lie meditations on the fragility of love, the delicate history of loss, the slimmest of barriers behind which we so often remain at one remove, a “narrative of containment.” Among these barriers are words themselves, which reflect us “in distorted fashion / tongue and teeth,” such that “should / someone speak, / we’d shatter.” For all their seeming accessibility, the poems are as often translucent as transparent, offering once again—as Landfall described Walpert’s first collection—a masterful set of linguistic trapdoors, rhetorical sleights of hand, and conjuring tricks with language.
“The poems in A History of Glass are some of the best I have read in years. In these thoughtful, soulful poems every reflection is earned. And they are voyages–Walpert has a natural narrative voice that works through lovingly observed overlapping images, gently pulling the reader into a shared, spiritually rewarding journey. One could not ask for more of poetry.” — Roald Hoffmann, Nobel-winning chemist and author of Soliton: Poems (New Odyssey Series)
“There’s a surface grace, an ease here that is both comforting and misleading. A welcoming gesture into clouds and linens and wildflowers which is irresistible even as you recognize the nails and shards of a bare-knuckled honesty that is anything but easy, anything but leaving us unchanged, even as you come to know the hand waving you on seems wary of its own gesture. Walpert, in these poems, is at his best: Charming and crafty, intelligent and earnest. But isn’t that what we look for, these days, accuracy and passion, good art? Here it is: an open, informed, unapologetic engagement of life’s demands.” –James Hoch, author of Miscreants: Poems
Sample Poems from A History of Glass:
“In the Photograph,” “Aubade,” “Thank You, Persia,” “A History of Glass”
“My Mother is an Onion”