The Wise and Foolish Builders: Poems (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

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


A chilling exploration of American progress and its consequences, featuring Sarah Winchester (the rifle heiress) and her unsettling Mysterious House, with cameos by Houdini, Annie Oakley, Oliver Winchester, Calamity Jane, Buffalo Bill and others.

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.

About the Author

Alexandra Teague is the author of two previous books of poetry—Mortal Geography, winner of Persea’s 2009 Lexi Rudnitsky Prize and the 2010 California Book Award, and The Wise and Foolish Builders—and the novel The Principles Behind Flotation. She is also co-editor of Bullets into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence. A former Stegner Fellow and National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, Alexandra is a professor at University of Idaho.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780892554607
ISBN-10: 0892554606
Publisher: Persea
Publication Date: May 1st, 2015
Pages: 96
Language: English