God of Nothingness: Poems

Graywolf. Jan. 2021. 88p. ISBN 9781644450420. pap. $16. POETRY
“The difference between the living and the dead is mostly one of conjugation,” writes Wunderlich, an apt pun suggesting not only the temporal sense of conjugation but the sexual frankness that characterized the poet’s early work. In a departure from the prayerful georgics of his last collection (2013’s The Earth Avails), Wunderlich here strikes a note of elegiac unease (“I have secretly admired the first hard frost / killing the garden, putting an end / to its many failures”), turning his concern to the complex nature of personal identity (“On the Autobiographical Impulse”) and how “the harder arrangements of affection” persist despite the erasures of mortality. His trademark rural imagery is again a constant, only it’s more Wisconsin Gothic (deer “spook and shadow in the pines,” bats “chop and hazard through the sky”) than American idyll. The poem “My Night with Jeffrey Dahmer,” as chilling as its title, owes much of its power to the poet’s ability to orchestrate a suspensefully blended tone of dread and desire.
VERDICT Rising from wells of loss and loneliness (“My future is the only future”), Wunderlich’s poems may seem harsh, even bitter, but their authentic, wounded humanity is no less compelling for that.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing