The poems in The Night Guard at the Wilberforce Hotel navigate the evanescent boundaries between the public and the private self. Daniel Anderson’s settings are often social but never fail to turn inward, drowning out the chatter of conversation to quietly observe the truths that we simultaneously share and withhold from one anothereven as we visit friends, celebrate a young couple’s union, or eavesdrop on the conversations of others.
These twenty poems include meditations on teaching hungover undergraduates, wine tasting among snobs, and engaging the war on terror from the comfort of the suburbs. They are alternately driven by ornamental language that seeks to clarify and crystallize the beauties of our common world and the poet’s faith that fellowship ultimately trumps partisanship. Even as they weigh and measure the darkness of the heart and the sometimes rash and stingy movements of the mind, the poems refrain from pronouncing judgment on their characters. As much as they ponder, they also celebrate in exact, careful, and loving terms the haunting and bracing stimuli from which they originate.
About the Author
Daniel Anderson teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Oregon and is a winner of the Pushcart Prize. He is author of January Rain and Drunk in Sunlight, published by Johns Hopkins, and editor of The Selected Poems of Howard Nemerov.
Table of Contents
I The Night Guard at the Wilberforce Hotel 3
Pardon and Amnesty 5
In Vino Veritas 11
From Here to There 15
Epithalamion in a Minor Key 18
At Advent's End 21
II This First Hot Saturday in May 27
A Late Apology 29
Teaching The Merchant of Venice 34
The Hills, Beautiful Hills 37
Insomnia at Forty-Six 40
Easter Sundays 42
III Labor Day 47
The Novelist to His Characters 49
Someone Is Burning Leaves 51
Four Voices for the Afterlife 54
Mare Cognitum 60
Now: A Benediction 62
What People are Saying About This
The sensory realm of these poems is as slow and subtle as melting snow. The world is muffled and muted. What matters is how the mind goes into the observed world to illuminate it with thought, to stir its flagging passions, and even to bring it hope. This is a jolting and beautiful book, one I will go back to again and again.
The finely rendered voice in Daniel Anderson’s The Night Guard at the Wilberforce Hotel is one of wisdom and vulnerability, hard–earned resolve, and steadfast wonder. His attention—a "supple, taut, and silken net"—suspends between seemingly opposite and equally forceful gravities, one that belongs to "a dull, protracted age / Of worry, ambiguity, and doubt," and the other to a pure desire "that certain days—this one— / may never end." The result is transfiguring. Anderson is in firm possession of the rare ability to make "our exhausted, ruthless world / seem limitless once more." I am supremely grateful for The Night Guard at the Wilberforce Hotel.
Daniel Anderson's fine new poems are plain spoken, and yet their outwardness turns subtly inward as we read and endows each subject with depth and discovery.