The Dean of Discipline (2018)
University of Pittsburgh Press
In the richly musical and boldly imaginative poems of The Dean of Discipline, Michael Waters explores the confluences of the sensual and the spiritual, and renders their mysteries with precision and clarity. The title evokes the rigorous consciousness that prods the artist to deepen into his craft. Line by line, Waters delivers the passionate eloquence and intensity that distinguish his poems.
Darling Vulgarity (2006)
Finalist, the 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry
Darling Vulgarity showcases Michael Waters' long-standing aesthetic talent - the vivid and sensual poem. Like Whitman, Waters challenges us to embrace humanity's imperfections while, at the same time, urging us toward new spiritual realities. Riding the confluence of idea and metaphor, these poems maintain their psychological intensity as they evoke sharp memories and the dynamics of emotional aftermath. Floyd Collins writes in The Gettysburg Review, "[Waters'] language is uncompromisingly sensual. Few poets of his generation pursue with such unstinting ardor a conflation of narrative and lyric techniques."
"Waters creates myths of madness and aberrant sexuality in a style of pure classicism... a brilliant, virtuosic performance." --Poet Lore
"Darling Vulgarity is a love song to the harsher side of pleasure, and Waters is at the height of his powers with detailed storytelling and lyric flash." --American Poet
Gospel Night (2011)
In a poetry world filled with structurally-experimental and opaque writing, Michael Waters’s voice is increasingly unique. He writes in a straight-forward, lyrically beautiful style while delving into risqué subject matter, particularly regarding sex. In Gospel Night, his 10th poetry collection, Waters tackles the dual (and dueling) natures of our humanity: sin and transgression; isolation and atrocity; love and darkness; and the desire for a language that can illuminate such ordinary yet disturbing spaces.
"Waters excels at stark-eyed, honest elegies... all rendered in the strong free verse that is Waters's signature... He is a poet of detail, but also one of directness, pursuing strong feeling wherever it dives or climbs." --Publishers Weekly
"A glowing golden horniness emanates from this book's hungry heart." --Andrei Codrescu, Exquisite Corpse
Celestial Joyride (2016)
In these poems of taut clarity, craft, and texture, Michael Waters continues his bold exploration of sensual pleasure and moral transgression as means of affirming spiritual faith. Just as a joyride suggests recklessness and exhilaration, so Celestial Joyride is an energized journey marked by spiritual recklessness in the face of perpetual mortality. Compelling, musical narratives offer rich meaning and vivid consequence.
"[T]he consistency of his work over the past thirty years has contributed greatly to American letters, and his unique voice within the poetry world illuminates, with precision and clarity, the intricate nature of the human condition."
--Esteban Rodriguez, American Book Review
"Waters' pleasure in the figurative and musical possibilities of language is evident again and again." --Tony Roberts, Stand (UK)
"Waters stands among the best American poets writing today."
--Roberto Bonazzi, San Antonio Express-News
Not Just Any Death (1979)
ISBN: 0-918526-24-8 paper
ISBN: 0-918526-23-X cloth
ISBN: 1-880238-95-0 cloth
ISBN: 1-880238-96-9 paper
Finalist, Paterson Poetry Prize
In the title poem of this collection, the speaker declares that “the common measure of love is loss,” a signature motif of the work of Michael Waters, one of the finest poets of his generation. Parthenopi: New and Selected Poems blends the best of Waters’ vivid and sensual poems from his previous collections with new work. Like Whitman, Waters challenges us to embrace humanity’s imperfections while, at the same time, urging us toward new spiritual realities. Riding the confluence of idea and metaphor, these poems maintain their psychological intensity even as they evoke sharp memories and the various dynamics of emotional aftermath.
“His language is uncompromisingly sensual. Few poets of his generation pursue with such unstinting ardor a conflation of narrative and lyric techniques… a wonderful book, an opus of intelligence, candor, and grace.”
—The Gettysburg Review
“Compelling and refreshingly unpredictable poems… A natural storyteller instinctively aware of the immediately gripping qualities of what Horace called ‘in media res,’ Waters seeks to home in on something elusive, withheld, not-quite-yet known or understood.” —Poetry
Green Ash, Red Maple, Black Gum (1997)
ISBN: 1-880238-42-X cloth
ISBN: 1-880238-43-8 paper
Michael Waters writes vivid, sensual poems that fuse our longings in this world with the human urge to glimpse whatever lies beyond. Waters' muse is Walt Whitman and, like much of Whitman's work, his poems challenge us to abide one another and embrace humanity's imperfections. Waters' generous poems, crafted syllable by syllable, speak to love and loss, our foibles and shortcomings, and the possibility of aesthetic and spiritual transcendence.
"Waters is a masterful poet who specializes in the I-can't-bear-it-any-longer of frustrated love... Beautifully crafted, Waters's poems resonate with literary allusions.... --Library Journal
Anniversary of the Air (1985)
Carnegie Mellon University Press
"exquisitely crafted... Anniversary of the Air is elegant in its diction, and although each of its poems is firmly controlled, none of them is contrived. Above all the poems are generous in spirit and show that Mr. Waters understands that 'the world begins to come true / if we stare long enough, / if we stare hard.'"
--Michael Collier, The Baltimore Sun
"A shiver of ecstatic loneliness is almost palpable... Waters is artful, inventive, and witty at creating it." --Roger Mitchell, Poetry
"An oddly affecting volume." --Joseph Parisi, Booklist
Michael Waters: Selected Poems (2011)
Shoestring Press (UK)
“Waters seeks to capture the different kinds of negative space which interpenetrate American public life, history, and even the most intimate moments 'between two bodies'-- what he calls 'the loneliness of two people / together." -- Jonathan Taylor, The Times Literary Supplement
Reel Verse: Poems About the Movies (2019) Knopf
Edited by Michael Waters and Harold Schechter
A unique Pocket Poets anthology of a hundred years of poetic tributes to the silver screen, from the silent film era to the present. The variety of subjects is dazzling, from movie stars to bit players, from B-movies to Bollywood, from Clark Gable to Jean Cocteau. More than a hundred poets riff on their movie memories: Langston Hughes and John Updike on the theaters of their youth, Jack Kerouac and Robert Lowell on Harpo Marx, Sharon Olds on Marilyn Monroe, Louise Erdrich on John Wayne, May Swenson on the James Bond films, Terrance Hayes on early Black cinema, Maxine Kumin on Casablanca, and Richard Wilbur on The Prisoner of Zenda. Orson Welles, Leni Riefenstahl, and Ingmar Bergman share the spotlight with Shirley Temple, King Kong, and Carmen Miranda; Bonnie and Clyde and Ridley Scott with Roshomon, Hitchcock, and Bresson. In Reel Verse, one of our oldest art forms pays loving homage to one of our newest—the thrilling art of cinema.
Contemporary American Poetry, 8th ed.
(2006) Houghton Mifflin/Cengage
Edited by Michael Waters and A Poulin Jr.
This highly respected anthology presents the works of 70 poets who have shaped the contours and direction of mainstream American poetry from 1960 to the present. Designed to provide a rich reading experience for both undergrad and graduate courses, more than 500 selections illustrate the variety and vitality of American poetry over the last few decades. For each poet, the collection features a generous sampling of their work along with a photo, biographical sketches, and bibliographies.
Perfect in their Art (2003)
Southern Illinois University Press
Edited by Michael Waters and Robert Hedin
Perfect in Their Art: Poems on Boxing from Homer to Ali spans the millennia to present more than one hundred of the finest in pugilism poetry from both oral and written traditions, celebrating the lasting literary, historical, and cultural significance of boxing's storied heritage. Editors Robert Hedin and Michael Waters pulled no punches in assembling the definitive poems and poets of the sport. Works by such classical poets as Homer, Virgil, and Pindar are gathered here side-by-side for the first time with the poems of Lord Byron, William Makepeace Thackeray, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This provocative collection also features more recent literary heavyweights, including Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Levine, Wislawa Szymborska, Ai, Yusef Komunyakaa, James Merrill, and Norman Mailer.