The Spectral Wilderness.jpg
The Spectral Wilderness.jpg



88 Pages

Publisher: Wick Poetry at Kent State University
Purchase includes: EPUB & PDF

Read reviews on Amazon & Goodreads

Winner of the 2013 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize

It is a joy. . .to come nearer to a realm of experience little explored in American poetry, the lives of those who are engaged in the complex project of transforming their own gender... Oliver Bendorf writes from a paradoxical, new-world position: the adult voice of a man who has just appeared in the world. A man emergent, a man in love, alive in the fluid instability of any category.—Mark Doty, from the Foreword

Bendorf's collection indeed opens the door to a spectral wilderness, an otherworldly pastoral, a queer ecology endlessly transformed by possibility, grief, and the unruly wanting of our names and bodies. Stunningly lyrical and beautifully theoretical, The Spectral Wilderness is an invitation one cannot turn down; the book calls us to travel with Bendorf, to study the topography of becoming because what we used to be matters in the way that language matters however fleeting, however mistaken, however contradictory it might be.—Stacey Waite

What gorgeous and ravenous rackets Oliver Bendorf's poems are made of; what a yearning and beautiful heart. Lift a geode from the ground and crack me open, he writes, which is more or less what these poems do for me: break me open to what might sparkle and blaze, what might glisten and burn inside. The Spectral Wilderness is a wonderful book.—Ross Gay

Oliver Bendorf's poems draw unflinching attention to the process of making... Bendorf strips a poem to its scaffold with an honesty that is at once funny and unbearably sad.—Blackbird

From "Wagon Jack":
Some days I wake up Wagon Jack.
In the mirror, in the shower, I am man,
my jaws the texture of steel wool. 
Nurse of my imaginary, make me 
soft forever. In my childhood bedroom 
I am six with scissors to my hair, 
studying headshots of Elvis to get 
the sideburns right. Wagon Jack, 
become me faster, lower my voice
like the wrong end of a hose . . . 

Oliver Bendorf was born and raised in Iowa and completed an MFA in Poetry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His poems have been published in Blackbird, Indiana Review, jubilat, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere, and anthologized in Best New Poets and Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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