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Assorted Poems is a generous selection from the first four books by one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary poetry. In Bag o’ Diamonds (1993), Smokes (1998), Source Codes (2001), and Ledger (2005), Susan Wheeler has established herself as a poet of rare gifts. Her work is allusive and searching, sweeping over time and place, from the art of the northern Renaissance to corporate logos, observing and exploring everything with characteristic precision and intelligence. The poems are both rigourous and free, taking on our culture, its beauties and cruelties, its relationship to the past and its uncertain future. Assorted Poems is a vibrantly thoughtful and entertaining book, a must read from a poet whom Harold Bloom has called “an exuberant, subtle, endlessly inventive original.”
‘Wheeler’s poetry doesn’t shy from difficulty, complexity or confusion . . . Wheeler holds a door open for the jumble of history: Dutch painting and British theology room with old riddles and New York Times articles . . . Economics and emotion face each other across a charged field; stuff gathers in the middle, glittery as a sack of diamonds.’ —Joshua Clover, The New York Times Book Review
‘Susan Wheeler is interested in the choppy, crazy images and motives in consumer culture; she loves to navigate through the hype to find the actual emotions that drive it all.’ —Robert Pinsky, The Washington Post Book World
‘Susan Wheeler’s narrative glamour finds occasions in unlikely places . . .What at first seems cacophonous comes in the end to seem invested with a mournful dignity.’ —John Ashbery
‘Wheeler is that rare thing among poets, a genuine cultural critic; her poems use image and allusion with such exactitude that we see the things around us — from pop-tarts to polyvinyl toilet seats — as if for the first time. Ledger is a dazzling collection.’ —Marjorie Perloff, author of The Vienna Paradox
‘If Baudelaire was, for Walter Benjamin, the lyric poet of the era of high capitalism, Susan Wheeler is a lyric poet for an era of superstores, global corporations, and product tie-ins. Her poems draw on a wealth of sources — from seventeenth-century religious poetry and Flemish painting to contemporary consumerism — in an effort to define our tenancy to rich lords and concurrent losses to the human heart.’ —Michael Davidson
‘Her energy and devotion to detail make her a virtuoso of variety, of vision – but she also possesses an ear for passion and its profound loss.’ —Carol Muske-Dukes, The Los Angeles Times
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