John Witte's poetry sweeps the reader immediately into its crosscurrents, its passionate engagement and its ambivalence. Composed of staggered tercets, the poems in Second Nature track the chaotic rush and swerve of life as we live it. Wide open to the world, Witte writes with uncommon energy and urgency and his vision is exhilarating. Second Nature teems with expertly realized lyrics, monologues, and narratives, as well as poems based on historical figures from Ovid to Janis Joplin. The metaphors for human endurance, and the transformative power of art and community, are accurate and rich. Alert to the dangers of love and loss, Witte finds his poems where sorrow and transcendence converge. Like birds singing their "desperate psalm" in a clear-cut, his poems bring us a rare kind of hope.
University of Washington Press
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