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Catalog Archive / Spring 2022

The Sound Boat
New and Selected Poems

Wisconsin Poetry Series
Ronald Wallace and Sean Bishop, Series Editors

Winner of the Four Lakes Prize in Poetry

“From the deeply moral and radical qualities of her first book to spectacular new poems, Vollmer has created a body of work singular in American poetry. With the sense, intellect, sound, tone, rhythm, and music only the most real and truest poetry provides, The Sound Boat embodies, on every level, the regions of the human soul.”
—Lawrence Joseph

Judith Vollmer’s sixth collection explores human voices and geographies, stories and mysteries, and natural phenomena inside urban spaces. Her lyrical narratives, character portraits, locational investigations, and choral fragments often emerge from physical objects and from green and/or ruined cityscapes. Vollmer’s home city, Pittsburgh, and its sister-locations within Italy and Poland, undergird her attention to orientation and perception at work in her poems’ acutely visual studies.

Featuring twenty-one new and fifty-seven selected poems from her earlier volumes—The Apollonia Poems, The Water Books, Reactor, The Door Open to the Fire, and Level GreenThe Sound Boat reveals Vollmer’s devotion to examining place and space to uncover poetry that touches emotions related to wandering physical and emotional realms: some familial and deeply personal, some unknowable.

Old city, I’ve come East for your long day and endless night:

down in the street, between the turtle fountain and the iron head

the party shouts and sings, sweats and snakes, swells into a throb

or momentum of sound.

—Excerpt from “The Sound Boat”


Judith Vollmer. Judith Vollmer is the author of five previous collections, including The Apollonia Poems, which also won the Four Lakes Prize. Her writing has appeared in Poetry International, The Women’s Review of Books, The Georgia Review, and elsewhere. She is a professor emerita of English at the University of Pittsburgh–Greensburg and teaches privately.




“Always at the center of Vollmer’s poems is her love and connection to the people she learned from: mothers, fathers, poets, artists, teachers, workers, literary ancestors, freedom fighters, and revolutionaries. You’ll find Thurgood Marshall in a poem with Rachel Carson; Rilke with Camus. No poet has captured more vividly that place that Pavese describes: the place that one ‘has it in his blood beyond anyone else’s understanding.’”
—Toi Derricotte

“Beautifully cooked and served, full of harmonic oscillations, as transporting and philosophical as it is grounded and sensual. Vollmer is a poet in love with the world, real, imagined, terrestrial and atmospheric, and her poetry works in varied and magical ways. . . . The Sound Boat privileges its reader with poems that span decades, a body of work that startles and enchants with honest longing and love, all laid bare.”



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Table of Contents


New Poems

Roadside Tavern
Young Jane Jacobs
A Visit from Milosz
Pittsburgh Maps
Young George Harrison
The Diagonals
Angel Dust Elegy
Street Fair
The Reader
The Sound Boat
The Immolation
Little Body
Old Red Dog
Ars Poetica
To a New Window
The Ruined House
An Elixir of Mica
Vernal Equinox
Open, Grove

from The Apollonia Poems (2017)

Flower Meal
Walking to Miami
Another Green
Little Grandmother Pays an Evening Visit, Rolls Down Her Stockings and Looks Around
Very Smart Very Proud
Mother Comes
Street Grate
After Reading Another Book of Dull Poetry I Go Out and Cut the Grass
Children of October
In an Old Hotel
The Vowel
Copper, Gold, Olives, Wine
Apollonia Is Restored to the Book

from The Water Books (2012)

New Black Dress
Field Near Rzeszow
On the Tarmac at Dover Air Force Base
To a Lamp
Sticks Found in a Ravine
My Orange
Hole in the Sky
The Bowl
For Aaron Scheon
I Take My Mother to See the Rothko Panels, 2007
After Pavese’s “Grappa in September”

from Reactor (2004)

The Coffee Line
from Yucca Mountain Sequence
Coffee with Narrative
In Praise of Camus at the End of His Century
Port of Entry
She Kept Me
Note to the Mist

from The Door Open to the Fire (1997)

My Sublimation
Asleep at the 2001 Club, Early Seventies
Poem at an Unmarked Grave
The Sound of the Slap
Passing the Clinic in a Small Town
The Night Trains
We Built This City
Eating Reagan
Star Gazing with My Brothers
The Ecology of Baseball
Tell Me about the Peacocks and Fountains
Night Walks

from Level Green (1990)

Moving to New York
Father’s Magic Trick
The Nuclear Accident at SL 1, Idaho Falls, 1961
Looking for Level Green
Fourteen Nights
Sheila’s Flat
My Grandmother’s Rags
Smoking Cigars with Li Po



Recent Winners of the Four Lakes Prize in Poetry

Fruit, winner of the Four Lakes Prize in Poetry, collection by Bruce Snider. Cover image of two anatomical illustrations of male figures meeting in the center where a large black dot announces title and poet.

Bruce Snider

House of Sparrows: cover art of an impressionist painting of three small birds, with a muted yellow color scheme, on the left half of the cover, with a gray, monochromatic block on the right side of the cover.

House of Sparrows
New and Selected Poems
Betsy Sholl

Book Title

Larger images

April 2022
LC: 2021041560 PS
182 pp. 7 x 9

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Paper $18.95 S
ISBN 9780299336943
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