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The Bicycle and the Soul:
Prose on Poetry

(2024) Tiger Bark Press

In ten incisive and accessible essays, Michael Waters deepens into individual poems by several unique American poets—Jean Valentine, C.K. Williams, Alicia Ostriker, Gerald Stern, Diane Wakoski, Bill Knott, Isabella Gardner, and Frank Stanford—and into two poems of his own to consider how all aspects of craft converge toward each poem’s creation. In addition, he includes a half-dozen more personal pieces about becoming a poet. Waters’ prose, like his poetry, is insightful and passionate, as well as useful to anyone interested in the making of art.

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(2023) Etruscan Press


Michael Waters’ Sinnerman charts the fluid boundaries between transgression and transcendence in narrative poems containing Waters’ signature lyrical gestures.

“Blessed be sin if it teaches men shame,” wrote Georges Benanos. Sinnerman continues the poet’s exploration of trespass as a mode of worship in poems that “delight in wit and wordplay” (The Gettysburg Review) and display “raucous devotion” while assuming “a divine erotic presence even in his more harrowing poems” (The Georgia Review).

A fire escape, a fire hydrant, a father’s comb, the mosaic of a bull in an Italian shopping mall, a soul in flight―all assume resonance “that they may shine more darkly” in the light of Waters’ words. If sin is “seen as good once gone,” these poems weigh our attraction to transgression against our desire for forgiveness. Novelistic in depth and reach, elegiac in its embrace of the living and the dead, raw in its fraught vulnerability, and cunning in its explosive and tongue-delighting sound play, Sinnerman seems poised between the here-and-now and the invisible it invites and confronts.

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