The University of Wisconsin Press


The Declarable Future
Jennifer Boyden

The Four Lakes Prize in Poetry
Ronald Wallace, General Editor

Winner of the 2013 Four Lakes Prize in Poetry

Finalist, Stafford/Hall Award for Poetry, Oregon Book Awards

“I can’t remember a recent book so inhabited by a spirit of unease about where we find ourselves now. ‘Always in search of the voices,’ Jennifer Boyden writes, and I can feel her probing for a way to give shape, less to a catalog of our social and spiritual predicaments than the mood of our times. ‘The god of no ears. /The god of why bother, of make it stop’ suggests both her assessment and her method—her poems don't describe so much as embody this disquiet. This is a wise book by a talented poet.”
—Bob Hicok, author of The Legend of Light

The poems in this book inhabit a world uneasily familiar and promising, but from the distance of a few possibilities into the future. In this collection of sharp, hallucinatory, and often darkly humorous poems, a lost man wanders among the towns of people who can’t remember what they named the children, how to find each other’s porches, or whether their buildings are still intact. That’s why they need the person with the loupe. Among the poems where doorknobs emit the daily news, stone angels fall from the sky, and the floating world’s harvest is whatever swims too close, the person with the loupe steadfastly verifies only what can be measured, while the lost man is witness to the unquantifiable and the limitless. And throughout, precise and observant language leads us expertly into the gorgeous, precarious wilderness of The Declarable Future.

“From the crystal doorknob transmitters that open The Declarable Future to the last will of the lost man that closes it, I was utterly captivated by the power of Jennifer Boyden’s parallel world—a timely, disquieting parable for the broken one in which we live. Her lost man, like Z. Herbert’s Mr. Cogito, becomes an alter ego who inhabits and interprets our current predicament. Her colloquial language is lucid, metaphorically inventive, constantly surprising—a rare blend of the piquant and the quietly tragic.”
—Eleanor Wilner, Warren Wilson College

Jennifer Boyden
’s first book, The Mouths of Grazing Things, won the Brittingham Prize in Poetry in 2010. Her work has appeared in Folio, Orion, Gettysburg Review, and The Beloit Poetry Journal, among others. She is a recipient of a PEN Northwest Wilderness Writing Residency and lives on the Oregon coast.


The Declarable Future interrogates rather than placates, and in doing so, the book ultimately values wonder over certainty. If readers are able to suspend their disbelief . . . they will be rewarded with a book that encourages them to reconnect with others in the face of uncertainty.”
Orion Magazine

The Declarable Future makes large claims for poetry itself as a vital cultural force for navigating our way out of the dangerous straits of the postmodern condition. . . . Boyden's poems, with their gorgeous language, their parabolic narratives and bold associative leaps, are ‘ thinking poems. ’”

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

Of Related Interest:
Image of a hand and forearm made up of newsprint, people, and and images reaching toward the skyThe Mouths of Grazing Things
Jennifer Boyden
Winner of the 2010 Brittingham Prize in Poetry, selected by Robert Pinsky

"In a clear, muscular language loaded with precise revealing metaphor, Jennifer Boyden delivers a world. These are poems of a mature poet deeply engaged with her environment, demonstrating again and again the power of language to surprise and delight in moments of true insight."—Sam Hamill


May 2013
LC: 2012032681 PS
112 pp.   6 x 9  

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Paper $16.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-29214-0
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“In The Declarable Future the lost man explores an eerily strange town, which gradually and chillingly comes to resemble my own. Here recent scientific breakthroughs collide with intimate family life, ethereality with the quotidian, and, when we least expect it, the theoretical plane drops off suddenly into the abyss of the too, too real. In these poems of pith and sizzle, ‘Love [is] finding fleas in the fur of our sisters.’ Sisters, you may believe it.”
—Nance Van Winckel, author of No Starling


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Updated 10/24/2014

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