The Wise and Foolish Builders: Poems (Paperback)
Too often, poetry gets a bad rap, not unlike the way alarmists periodically insist the novel is dead, with all books that can’t be read on some sort of screen soon to follow. But Alexandra Teague’s new book, and the enthusiastic response it’s getting, would prove those doubters wrong. The Wise and Foolish Builders is a collection of verse to be sure to check out. Taking as her subject Sarah Winchester, of Winchester Rifle and later Winchester Mystery House fame (or infamy), Alexandra’s poems explore history, Manifest Destiny, and the legacy of a woman who eschewed the prescribed mores of her time. The poems are exciting in their language, image, and idea, and are delightful in their form, including more traditional forms like the sonnet, along with the less common (likely because they’re so difficult to write) and more contemporary stereoscopic poems, which can be read left to right or up and down, so that the poem’s meanings are deepened and layered, increasingly complex, a bit like Sarah Winchester’s mansion, though infinitely clearer. These poems are smart, accessible, and thought provoking, and a pleasure to see in print and collected together.— Jamaica
This chilling new collection by the author of Mortal Geography (winner of the California Book Award in poetry) is a verse exploration of American progress and its consequences, featuring rifle heiress Sarah Winchester and her unsettling Mystery House, with cameos by Harry Houdini, Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane, Buffalo Bill and many other fascinating figures. Steeped in history yet wildly imaginative, these poems commune with Winchester's haunted legacy and that of westward expansion, connecting voices from a troubled past with their irrepressible present-day echoes. The Wise and Foolish Builders is an unmistakable accomplishment by a poet of remarkable formal skill and fantastic originality.