Whale Fall: Poems

Whale Fall: Poems

by David Baker
Whale Fall: Poems

Whale Fall: Poems

by David Baker


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“The craft of Whale Fall defies. It asserts, for me, a definition of poetry: an unbearable gulf of feeling made indelible by form.”—Diane Seuss, Paris Review

A masterful and moving new volume from a “peerless poet of the natural world” (New York Times Book Review).

Acclaimed as an essential voice of the American Midwest, David Baker expands both his environment and his form in his eleventh collection. Whale Fall is about time, measured in the wingbeats of a hummingbird or the epochs of geological change, and about place, whether a backyard in Ohio or the slopes of a melting glacier.

In the exquisite, musical title poem, a deft hybrid of eco-poetic alarm and intimate narrative, Baker transports us to the deep sea as a single gray whale carcass falls, decays, and is reinhabited by a cosmos of teeming lives. Among the strands of ocean health, microplastics, and related calamities of human disregard, the poet weaves in a personal story of chronic illness. The result is a stirring, confident work, astonishing in its emotional acuity and lyric range.

Each poem in Whale Fall is an echolocation, emitting its music to situate itself among others in the vastness of the world. Amidst climate change and catastrophe, as amidst a blooming viburnum or a viral disease, these poems send their songs across empty spaces of a line, a page, or a continent, to see who is out there, moving in the depths of being.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781324074687
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 03/12/2024
Pages: 112
Sales rank: 1,088,915
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

David Baker’s many honors include fellowships and awards from the Poetry Society of America, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. The recipient of the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize, Baker teaches at Denison University and lives in Granville, Ohio.

Table of Contents


The Telling 3

Mullein 4

Nineteen Spikes 8

Turner's Clouds for Plumly 11

Storm Psalm 15

Snow Falling 17

Is there no sound to 20


Middle Devonian 23

Sensationalism 27

Nine Wild Turkeys in a Field 30

Gravel 32

The Loneliness of Animals 34

Extinction 37

A slight wrinkle 39


Whale Fall 43


Elegiac 61

A Portrait of My Father in Seven Maps 62

One September 66

Hold Hands 68

Six Hours 69

We Are Gone 71

We never ended 74


Echolocation 77

This Morning 82

Four Poses 84

The Bathers at Nerja 86

Thirty-Six Silos 87

So Far 90

It doesn't take much 93

Acknowledgments 94

Notes 95

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