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Traveling from the rural Midwest and Chicago, his mythic childhood city, to the outposts of Cornwall and far-off Guangzhou, William Olsen searches for the miracle of wholeness in the small details. An urgency inhabits his poems as they lament and protest a pandemic disrespect for all things natural and the replacement of such with material progress. Olsen seeks to make a truly substantial inquiry into human existence, which leads him to test the adequacy of language. Filling his verses with a dazzling language that challenges, transports, questions, and intoxicates, he thus creates a genuine surrealism. His meditations on contemporary life are bleak but fiercely truthful - providing that paradox of literature, the exhilaration of feeling even when reading of the tragic. It is Olsen's distinct awe for our universe that offers hope for retrieving all that is being lost.
WILLIAM OLSEN is a professor of English at Western Michigan University. He has received an NEA fellowship, a Breadloaf Merilmykian fellowship and has won numerous awards for his poetry including a Pushcart Prize and two Academy of American Poets Awards. His two previous collections are Vision of a Storm Cloud (Northwestern, 1996) and The Hand of God and a Few Bright Flowers (University of Illinois, 1988).