The Unfortunates

William Baer

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Winner of the 1997 T. S. Eliot Prize

A unique collection of uncompromising poetic portraits written in the tradition of Masters, Robinson, and the verse portraits of Pound and Eliot.

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Ebook, Hardcover

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Description

Winner of the 1997 T. S. Eliot Prize

A unique collection of uncompromising poetic portraits written in the tradition of Masters, Robinson, and the verse portraits of Pound and Eliot. Each portrait has a specific, unsettling tale to tell, and the sum total of these poems provides a powerful commentary on contemporary life in the American fin de siècle.

The fearless portraiture of William Baer’s The Unfortunates holds one’s eyes as steadily, as searchingly, as the photographs of ancestors. Here is strong stuff, delivered wholesale from the real world.

—Fred Chappell

This is one of the most deeply unsettling books of poetry I have read in a very long time.

—Anthony Hecht 

These poems feed the reader’s primary addiction: watching in his own mind, after each last line, as the large explodes out of the small.

—Mona Van Duyn

 

 

Contents

I
Cults

2
Sea of Marmara
Breaking and Entering
Hospital
Prosecutor
Librarian
Belmont
Nightflight
Fire Watcher
Garbage

3
Drainage Pipe

4
The Cuban Girl
Magnum XL-200
Malta
Documents
Books
Crematorium

A Rebours
Hospitals
The Hudson Guild Theatre
Adriatic

5
Confidence Man

6
Aliens
Munich
Telephone Psychic
Trauma Center
Monte Carlo
East River
Country Club
Disphobic
Suicide Note

7
Obituary in The New York Times
Ischia
rec.antiques
Runway
South Shore Cottage
Babysnatcher
Main Reading Room
Summer in the Cyclades
The Shipmaster’s Note

Authors

William Baer, a graduate of Rutgers and New York University, wrote his dissertation at the University of South Carolina under the direction of James Dickey. He later attended the Writing Seminars at The Johns Hopkins University and has been the recipient of a Fulbright and a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Grant. His work has been published in Poetry, The Hudson Review, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, The New Criterion, and many other literary journals.

Visit William's website.

Reviews

This willingness to look outside himself, bringing a wide range of human subjects to the short poem, deserves high praise. The book’s numerological tidiness—thirty-seven poems of two eight-line stanzas, three longer poems containing nine stanzas each of the same length—conveys deliberateness upon these mostly untidy lives.

The Hudson Review

The Unfortunates is a unique collection of poetic portraits written in blank verse octaves. These poems introduce a wide range of unfortunate inhabitants of the contemporary landscape: a young man attracted to cults, a woman working for a psychic hotline, a housebreaker, a disgruntled librarian, a con artist, a pyrophile, and many more. Each poem has an individual tale to tell, and the sum total of the collection provides a powerful commentary on contemporary life in America.

Midwest Book Review

Baer’s poetry is composed of brief character studies filled with troubling insights and hard-boiled moral reflections.... Still Baer’s competence is apparent.

Independent Publisher

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