Recent Books

"There is no knack for grief," writes Wheeler (Assorted Poems), but her far-reaching experimentation suggests that—through language—she's seeking one. Three wild sequences struggling with loss comprise this volume: In "The Maud Poems," a daughter attempts to make sense of a mother's language rife with idioms and clichés by collaging stanzas of the poet's own lyric voice ("In the sepulcher where the mother lay/ at last some sleep to gain,/ Hannah helped me carve the oak/ into granite with her cane") between nagging bursts ("Don't come in here all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed expecting us to give you more"). The second sequence, "The Devil—or—The Introjects" remixes this vernacular with narrative in dense—sometimes opaque—units. The last is also the most stirring sequence: "The Split" recounts disaster that "doubles at the slightest slight" through slippery lines that reveal masterful dexterity without compromising meaning. "Such is the state of our poetry caught in my throat on its way/ to my mouth, why not do everything// but of course we do nothing" she writes. Wheeler's ambitious new book comes closer to doing everything—much closer—and we are left awed at Wheeler's audacity. (Oct.) Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Susan Wheeler's narrative glamour finds occasions in unlikely places: hardware stores, Herodotus, Hollywood Squares, Flemish paintings, green stamps, and echoes of archaic and cyber speech. What at first seems cacophonous comes in the end to seem invested with a mournful dignity: that of 'the jangling discourse of our nation.' Ledger is a treasure map for those willing to understand the journey." - John Ashbery
A "project" book of poetry, interspersing Susan Wheeler's informal collages with poems
Susan Wheeler's second collection of poetry, with an afterword by U.S. poet laureate Robert Hass.
Selected Poems
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 rigorous 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 mustread from a poet whom Harold Bloom has called “an exuberant, subtle, endlessly inventive original.”
Record Palace is an astonishment. Susan Wheeler's deft touch and flawless ear have produced an irresistable work, both fresh and sage. - Toni Morrison

Source Codes

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The "Key" - Table of Contents

Source Codes

One. Cf. Romanticism - present re: “self.”

Two. Rite Two: confession.

Three. Cinquains, class assignment, October 1999.

Four. Girl, New York Times Sunday Magazine, editorial spread, 2000.

Five. Robert Frost, “Provide, Provide.”

Six. Singer, unknown.

Seven. Odium sine litter is mors est. — Cicero.

Eight. Girl, The Economist. The Hague: the House in the Wood - the hall.

Nine. Text: Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy.

Ten. Three figures, The Economist.

Eleven. John Kelly as Joni Mitchell, Westbeth Theater, 1996.

Twelve. Character study, Record Palace, Wheeler.

Thirteen. American advertising design, c. 1963-68. Grace Louise Skeen, instructor, and Ray Barton Wheeler, student, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), 1947-53.

Fourteen. Figure, The Economist.

Fifteen. Barry Lyndon by Stanley Kubrick; King Lear and Weekend by Jean-Luc Godard; L’Argent by Robert Bresson; Shadows and Woman Under the Influence by John Cassavetes; The Pumpkin Eater by Jack Clayton; California Split by Robert Altman.

Sixteen. Bois de Boulogne, Parc de Bagatelle, Edition artistique, C.M., Paris.

Seventeen. “Benny the Beaver,” 78-rpm children’s recording, c. 1950-60.

Eighteen. Nature.

Nineteen. Fragment, Brodheim, Remarkable Women.

Twenty. Queen Latifah.

Twenty-one. Colin Noncarrow by Paul Sacher Stiftung.

Twenty-two. “Millennium” chain poem, editors of Verse magazine, 1999.

Twenty-three. Unknown.

Twenty-four. United flight #862, San Francisco - New York.

Twenty-five. Champion Spring - Geyser Park

Twenty-six. Bill Viola, Hatsu Yume (First Dream), 1981.

Twenty-seven. Still, Valley of the Dolls.

Twenty-eight. “Guest + Host = Ghost,” collage, Marcel Duchamp.

Twenty-nine. Lugano.

Thirty. Stutter.

Thirty-one. Wiesbaden, Königl, Hoftheater.

Thirty-two. Audio tape recording, Eric O’Briant, c. 1984.

Thirty-three. Becker’s Road, Steeldrucktone, Germany.

Thirty-four. Memory.

Thirty-five. Buffle Chigkpen Wingf — sign, restaurant window, New York City.

Thirty-six. Journal article on “says himself —ing” usage, American Speech.

Thirty-seven. Sown figure, The Economist.

Thirty-eight. Cassius Marcellus Clay /​ Sonny Liston bout, February 25, 1964.

Thirty-nine. Boy Scouts, The Economist.

Forty. After portrait studies by Eric Fischl.

Forty-one. Villa Borghese.

Forty-two. Roger Cohen, The New York Times, July 9, 1998: “LAGOS, Nigeria, July 8 — Nigeria’s military ruler tried to calm an angry nation tonight, after the sudden death of the opposition leader, Moshood K.O. Abiola, by agreeing to let outside experts to take part in the autopsy.”

Daniel Day Lewis, actor, Last of the Mohicans and In the Name of the Father. Quincy, NBC series 1976-83. Columbo, NBC series 1989-90.

Forty-three. The Hague: the House in the Wood - the white dining room.