The Spectral Wilderness

The Spectral Wilderness

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Author: Oliver Baez Bendorf

Publisher: The Kent State University Press (2015)

"Bendorf's poems give us all we have ever wanted, to wake up and feel that the body we are in is ours, that the hands on the ends of our wrists—our body's gates of tenderness—are large enough to hold in them all the things we have desired. . . . In poem after poem he builds and rebuilds a body, a story, a desire that are at once familiar and strange, capable of brightness like any headlight but also capable of losing that light in their brokenness which makes us love them even more."

–Natalie Diaz 

"This debut collection from award-winning poet Oliver Baez Bendorf is 'alive in the fluid instability of any category,' Mark Doty writes in the introduction to this stunningly lyrical book that invites the reader to travel with Bendorf through a landscape of becoming, from the countryside to a bodega to a barber shop and back into the wild.
'It's 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

"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."

–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."

–Ross Gay

"Poems in The Spectral Wilderness observe, interrogate, and record the subtle shifts in mind, body, and relationships through the process of transitioning from female to male, presented in mythic language.... surrealist, plowed in a pastoral landscape."

–Southeast Review

Winner of the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, selected by Mark Doty