Where the Dead Are
by Wanda S. Praisner
These honest and poignant poems offer glimpses not only into the poet’s life, but also into the lives of others. These poems reveal how our lives are linked one to the other—those known and unknown, living or dead—and how the dead, once relegated to the “dark corners” of childhood, are, in fact, still with us. Though the landscape varies, a keen and observing eye is at work here. These are powerful and moving poems that speak to anyone who has experienced love, loss, survival.
These poems are beads gathered from around the world and threaded on the singular, haunting death of a college-aged son by drowning—so that, in them grief itself becomes a country that can have no boundaries at all. The poems embody both memory and absence, rendered emotionally raw and yet invariably, indelibly elegant. Praisner knows how to wield a resonant image without hysteria or hyperbole; through her restraint, her images seem an outgrowth of a natural decorum. Her narrator, in the lovely poem “Come Night,” “thought grief must be like the hot tea she held—a matter of letting it go cold in the cup, / a matter of waiting.” Here, in Where the Dead Are, Wanda Praisner has made it beautifully clear that the particular waiting she speaks of will never, ever end. Always the sound of the axe in the orchard,” she says. And her whole world’s an orchard. —Renée Ashley
As the title suggest, death is everywhere in Wanda Praisner’s book, Where the Dead Are, a powerful retelling of her travels around the world and into memories of the past. With striking visual imagery, she makes us see and feel the vulture flying overhead, a mutilated girl found, the sudden death of a son drowned in a swimming pool. “Unbidden, the past arrives, sits so close I can feel its breath” and so does her reader. Her language, poetic and precise, makes us feel and share emotions described and events visited in these fine poems. —Jean Hollander
about the author
Wanda S. Praisner, a recipient of Poetry Fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, is the author of A Fine and Bitter Snow (Palanquin Press, UCSA, 2003) and On the Bittersweet Avenues of Pomona (winner of the Spire Press Poetry Chapbook Competition, 2005). Winner of The Devil’s Millhopper Kudzu Prize, The Maryland Poetry Review’s Egan Memorial Award, and First Prize in Poetry at the College of New Jersey’s Writers’ Conference, she has been nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize. A retired educator, she is a Poet in Residence for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She lives with her husband in Bedminster, New Jersey.