Stephen Dobyns’s fourteenth collection of poems embodies a hardheaded art that practices an unremitting faith in the power of words. By turns humorous, sadly ironic, furious, and wise, the poems in Winter’s Journey are delivered in a precise, straightforward voice unafraid of pointing out that the emperor isn’t wearing clothes.
Dobyns uses a sharp wit to introduce profound narrative meditations on love, politics, and art. His thrillingly absurdist cast includes Chekhov, Kant, Bashō, a werewolf, a possum, and an unforgettable rhinoceros (in a poem that is not at all about a rhinoceros). While Dobyns walks his dog on the beach, or otherwise goes about his life, he ponders “the imponderables” and with fierce dedication tells hard-won truths concerning what the world and our experiences in it can teach us about how to live.
“These meditations are considerations of the big issues, the important questions that would be difficult to miss and wrong to ignore. Poets cannot be expected to provide the answers, but Dobyns does not shy away from elucidating the questions. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal
“[Dobyns’s poetry] has a somber, eccentric beauty not quite like anything else around these days.” —New York Times Book Review
“[Dobyns] blends philosophical musings with daft, deft metaphors and a cheeky vernacular.” —Poetry