Unmanly Grief: Poems

Unmanly Grief: Poems

by Jess Williard


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Finalist, 2019 Miller Williams Poetry Prize

“Poems that lead us to striking insights and strange destinations.”
—Billy Collins

The men who recur as characters throughout Jess Williard’s Unmanly Grief perform their masculinity in a variety of ways: boxing, theater, brotherhood, labor, and familial and romantic love. Marked by a sharp nostalgia, Williard’s poems move from Wisconsin to New York City and back, tracing the geographic movement of the speaker and his family: a teenage sister who disappears and returns, changed irrevocably; an older brother dismantled in adulthood; an ever-sacrificing father. Woven through the musculature of this varied and exciting collection, music appears as readily in dexterous formal verse as in lean, scrappy storytelling. What results is a crooning celebration of struggle and tenderness in this world, “where to be small and furious is enough.”

Finalist, 2020 Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award from the Binghamton Center for Writers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781682260937
Publisher: University of Arkansas Press
Publication date: 03/27/2019
Series: Miller Williams Poetry Prize Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 50
Sales rank: 1,218,335
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Jess Williard’s poems, stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in Poetry Northwest, Third Coast, North American Review, Colorado Review, Southern Humanities Review, Poet Lore, and more. He is originally from Wisconsin and now lives in Atlanta. This is his first book.

Table of Contents

Contents vii

Series Editor's Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

A Man in the Stands xv


On Boxing 3

Practice 4

The Problem of Ankles 5

For Floyd Patterson: A Letter 7

Townie Elegy 9

Doctrines on Getting Lost 11

Rod 12

Filament 14

Andronicus with Tar 15

For Claudius 17

Kissing At 19

The Touching 20


To Clarey 25

On Summer in Southern Wisconsin 27

From the Top 29

Float 30

Most High 31

Picture of a Girl 33

At McKinley Aquatics Center 34

Look 36

Let's Intuit Something 38

Worth It 41

Soundstripe 42

Shadowbox 44


Hands 47

Twice 48

Turn 50

Generous 51

The Spoils 52

Even 54

Heat 55

Collateral 56

Siren for Manny Pacquiao 59

Following 61

Feat 63

Apologia 66

Watch for It Everywhere 67

Grace to Our Spines 68

The Creatures We Must Become 71

Notes 75

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