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In For Dear Life, with accessibility, wit, and humor, Ronald Wallace evokes a wide variety of subjects that range from the traditional themes of lyric poetry—love, death, sex, the natural world, marriage, birth, childhood, music, religion, art—to the most unexpected and quirky narratives—an ode to excrement, a catalogue of comic one-liners, a celebratory testimonial to his teeth.
About the Author
Ronald Wallace is the author of numerous books of poetry, including, most recently, For a Limited Time Only. He is codirector of the creative writing program, Halls-Bascom Professor of English, and Felix Pollak Professor of Poetry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“How beautifully Ronald Wallace marries the haiku’s brief resonant perception with the sonnet’s musical dialectic! It’s a marriage of argument and awe, brought together with great formal agility. I love the deep humanity, the mix of wit and rue in For Dear Life—the wisdom that knows its limits, the irony that ends not in bitterness but delight, affirming both the passing of time and its continuation. All our most crucial questions are raised here with a humor and intelligence that make them new and all the more urgent. These are poems to cherish and keep close at hand.”
“The title of Ronald Wallace’s new collection of poems reads like a dedication: For Dear Life. In the long list of Wallace’s poetic gifts, perhaps the greatest is his ability to affirm our brief existence in spite of everything. The fact that we live, and can tell the tale—even of our own demise—is, Wallace shows, a miracle and a blessing beyond measure. I say of this fine book, as Wallace says of life itself, ‘All the news is good.’”
—Charles Harper Webb
“With his signature humor and elegant wit, Ron Wallace makes clear that the ‘dear life’ of the title is what he’s holding on for. This is a death-inflected collection, filled with meditations upon illness and aging that refuse to buckle in the face of the unspeakable. His wrenching elegies and playful celebrations of the self are always buoyed by his understanding of the richness of experience. Ronald Wallace’s touch is remarkably light even when his heart is heavy.”
—David St. John
“Wallace’s is a poetry of rare honesty, the kind of emotional honesty that gives us the story behind the story: As in Chinese painting, a few quick—but perfect—strokes illuminate the subject and bring it to life. It is poetry of an uncanny sensory keenness, which graces the stories he tells simultaneously with zest and sorrow, and makes us aware, even at the simplest moments, of the eternal tug-of-war between life and death.”
"Ronald Wallace’s poems ring with the emotional truth of what it means to be part of the world’s fragile commerce. He has the knack of trafficking in the serious without ever going solemn on the reader. If Emily Dickinson had slept with Buster Keaton, this poet might have been their bundle of cockeyed joy.”