Wheeler Publishes New Book

 

Lesley Wheeler, Henry S. Fox Professor of English at Washington and LeeUniversity and poetry editor for Shenandoah magazine, has published her debut essay collection, “Poetry’s Possible Worlds.”

In the collection, Wheeler tells the story of her father’s unraveling. According to the book’s description, “While she studies poetry in New Zealand on a Fulbright fellowship, his dishonesty smashes her parents’ marriage and destroys their savings. His death resolves nothing. The past and present keep shifting. Reading contemporary poetry, however, helps Wheeler negotiate the crisis. Wheeler’s frank, lively essays demonstrate how traveling through a poem’s pocket universe can change people for the better.”

A local book launch will be held at the Reeves Museum of Ceramics on the W&L campus on May 17 at 4:45 p.m. In addition to the launch, an interdisciplinary conversation is planned with W&L professors Leah Green, Ellen Mayock, Seth Michelson and Brenna Womer. Refreshments will be available, and books will be for sale.

“‘Poetry’s Possible Worlds’ applies a phenomenon that cognitive scientists call literary transportation; getting lost in a book or the experience of getting lost in a short poem,” said Wheeler. “Conversations with W&L undergraduates had a big influence on the book. I was taught that my responses to poems don’t bear on their meaning, but that bias cuts us off from a primary motive for reading at all. When you allow feeling into the classroom, it can supercharge discussion without shortchanging literature’s complexity. I hope this book, which includes 13 contemporary poems reprinted in full, weaves narrative and criticism together in a way that can excite anyone about poetry.”

Wheeler is the author of five poetry collections, including most recently “The State She’s In” and the novel “Unbecoming.” Her poems and essays appear in American Poetry Review, Ecotone, Massachusetts Review, Poetry and elsewhere.

 

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