Incisively capturing the oddities of our logic and the whimsies of our reason, the poems in Whereas show there is always another side to a story. With graceful rhythm and equal parts humor and seriousness, Stephen Dunn considers the superstition and sophistry embedded in everyday life: household objects that seem to turn against us, the search for meaning in the barrage of daily news, the surprising confessions between neighbors across a row of hedges. Finding beauty in the ordinary, this collection affirms the absurdity of making affirmations, allowing room for more rethinking, reflection, revision, prayer, and magic in the world.
From “Before We Leave”:
Where are we going?
It’s not an issue of here or there.
And if you ever feel you can’t
take another step, imagine
how you might feel to arrive,
if not wiser, a little more aware
how to inhabit the middle ground
between misery and joy.
from "The House on the Hill"
. . . from out of the fog,
a large, welcoming house would emerge
made out of invention and surprise.
No things without ideas! you'd shout,
and the doors would open,
and the echoes would cascade down
to the valleys and the faraway towns.
Stephen Dunn is the author of eleven collection of poetry. He teaches writing and literature at the Richard Stockton College in Pomona, New Jersey, and lives in Port Republic, New Jersey.