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Catalog Archive / Spring 2023


Wisconsin Poetry Series
Sean Bishop and Jesse Lee Kercheval, Series Editors
Ronald Wallace, Founding Series Editor

Midwhistle proves Dante Di Stefano ‘a child / of cello, air, & mint spears.’ In this refulgent homage, Di Stefano honors ‘what loves / have been thrummed forth & nurtured / into shining’ by poet William Heyen’s august work and person. Surely any reader will leave this book, as I did, more alert and alive, more ‘in love / with the gray undersides of / mulberry leaves & the way / the grass ekes toward twilight.’”
—H. L. Hix

Appearing on the first page of Dante Di Stefano’s Midwhistle, a flock of blackbirds braids its way throughout this book-length poem—an elegy to life itself. A sprawling, digressive love note to an unborn son, it is also a celebration of the life and legacy of poet William Heyen, a meditation on midlife, and an exploration of the food and fuel of poetry itself.

Di Stefano travels through a controlled stream of consciousness as he examines the weights of joy and grief. Bearing witness to the world, Midwhistle unfolds and refolds upon itself, touching on Hiroshima, Bergen-Belsen, Charlottesville, the sacoglossan sea slug, Darwin's Arch, and much more. Stylistically formal, the poem soars and dips, lightly and deftly finding the light in nighttime meditations, as the poet considers “our Unyet son, lemon-sized, / amniotic cosmonaut,” while imagining Heyen at his own age, “the thin black necktie of your / apprenticeship had not been / taken off yet.”

In these examinations we find the poet himself, faced always with a “blinking / cursor,” seeking in the words and lives of other poets what it really means to write poetry. Midwhistle, in its meandering self-reflection and loving expansiveness, is a celebration of the act of poetic creation itself.

Remember, to be
human is to be broken
&, to be broken, is to
see the almond blossom burst
under the closed eyelids of

your beloved.
—Excerpt from “xxiii. (interlude: prayer for Gaza)”


Dante DiStefano. Dante Di Stefano has published three previous poetry collections, including Ill Angels, and co-edited the anthology, Misrepresented People. A prize-winning author, he earned his PhD in English from Binghamton University and lives in Endwell, New York.




“An epic masterpiece. A rare and seamless melding of literary forbearers in conversation with Di Stefano’s contemporary experience of being fully alive as a poet and human being trying to make sense of the world, yet once again. This book is akin to the essence of psalms: they sing to the glory of why poetry matters to us, one and all, across time.”
—Richard Blanco, 2013 presidential inaugural poet and author of How to Love a Country

Midwhistle uses ‘unruly ink’ to write interludes as elegies, a soundtrack for a zombie apocalypse, a playlist on repeat, and poetry as ‘rootless prayer.’”
—Alison C. Rollins, author of Library of Small Catastrophes



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Table of Contents

1 i. (out of the azure)
2 ii. (an Unyet just begun)
6 iii. (interlude: elegy for Adam Zagajewski)
7 iv. (this mattering of music)
10 v. (soundtrack for a zombie apocalypse)
13 vi. (interlude: to my wife)
14 vii. (from aster)
16 viii. (poetry, be my body of shining)
20 ix. (a forty-three second freefall)
23 x. (mellifluous blah-blah // time travel)
25 xi. (interlude: on rereading Anne Carson’s Sappho)
26 xii. (when asked to describe the self // Yojimbo // Ishmael)
29 xiii. (skilled with moons)
30 xiv. (playlist on repeat)
32 xv. (little arks)
33 xvi. (after Anthony Brunelli’s Depot at Dusk)
37 xvii. (interlude: Darwin’s Arch)
38 xviii. (bright signatory)
40 xix. (the pomegranate’s hundred hundred hearts)
41 xx. (interlude: elegy for Eavan Boland)
42 xxi. (zero at the bone)
44 xxii. (in the manner of Proust & Tolstoy)
45 xxiii. (interlude: prayer for Gaza)
46 xiv. (gleaming // a kind of rising)
57 envoi (a traveler’s prayer)


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Book Title

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March 2023
LC: 2022028888 PS
116 pp. 5.5 x 7.5

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Paper $16.95
ISBN 9780299341541
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