The Spectral Wilderness

“Surrealist, plowed in a pastoral landscape.”
Southeast Review

“Astonishing.”
The Literary Review

” . . . a collection of rare insight.”
Poetry Matters

“At once funny and unbearably sad.”
Blackbird

The Spectral WildernessWinner of the Stan & Tom Wick Poetry Prize, selected by Mark Doty

Kent State University Press, 2015

Finalist, Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry
Best Poetry Book of 2014— Entropy Magazine
30 Must-Read Poetry Debuts from 2015 — Lithub
Spectacular Books of 2015 — Split This Rock

“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

“It’s a joy, then, a gateway, 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

“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. The Spectral Wilderness is a wonderful book.” —Ross Gay

“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. Stunningly lyrical and beautifully theoretical, The Spectral Wilderness is an invitation one cannot turn down; the book calls us to travel with Bendorf, to study the topography of becoming because ‘what we used to be matters’ in the way that language matters— however fleeting, however mistaken, however contradictory it might be.” —Stacey Waite
“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

The Spectral Wilderness is available from Kent State University Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local bookstore or library.

Reviewed in: Poetry Society of America, Southeast Review, Lambda Literary, Baltimore Gay Life, The Literary Review, and Transgender Studies Quarterly.

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