The Essential Poetry, 1960-2015


Available from Black Widow Press

A definitive collection of Eshleman’s poetry. Spanning the entirety of Eshleman’s poetic output, this is an essential reference work for Eshleman fans and for library holdings.

That Clayton Eshleman has not ceased from exploration over a career spanning more than fifty-five years is witnessed by the bulk, range, and diversity of the present collection of his essential poetry. That he has sought to open up his life and work, to entwine and entangle it with others, through observation and vision, research and scholarship, translation and editing, and collaboration and conversation, all of this reflects Eshleman’s life commitment, indeed a commitment to life in writing poetry.

The world embraced by Eshleman’s poetry is our world. As a contemporary writer, Eshleman’s history is our own: his writing a record and reflection of our times. Eshleman’s story — the story revealed in his poetry — is the story of mid-America meeting the wider world; the story of social and political radicalism, of a counterculture raising a voice in poetry and in art; of the challenges, frustrations and anomie that befell that counterculture and of the continued and indeed on-going drama of empire and overreaching power, from Vietnam and El Salvador to Afghanistan and Iraq. Eshleman’s life in letters has exemplified a commitment to ceaseless, wide-ranging exploration and encounter: with other places, other people, other poetries — foreign and familiar —, other modes of thought and image. As he has written of his work: “I dream of poems that could change something essential / about the way a few people view creation…”

Clayton Eshleman has published roughly 100 books and chapbooks of original poetry, translations, and nonfiction writings, and edited seventy issues of magazines and journals, including the ground-breaking Caterpillar and Sulfur. His writings have appeared in over 500 literary magazines and journals around the world and his books and writings have been translated into a number of languages. It is undoubtedly unnecessary to observe that he made and has fulfilled a life commitment to poetry.