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An agricultural community nestled in a pleasant valley has its way of life exposed, and
then threatened when two homeless men die in an abandoned 19th century railway station
struck by a crop duster flown by an intoxicated pilot. The surviving pilot is also the
fiancé of the mayor’s daughter, who is committed to transforming the agricultural
practices that have disabled her community and her own brother, a field flagman who has
worked in toxic conditions since he was a child, while her father tries to cover up the
homicides of the homeless men caused by his future son-in-law and maintain the
status quo-commercial gain at the expense of the toxification of the citizens of

Terminus, of their food and water sources, even the air they breathe. EcoLit Books

Nightshades Michael Gessner



Michael Gessner's enthusiasm for poetic synthesis is ably displayed in these mature poems of praise, myth, mystery and fervent search. Before the "great wall of eternal enigmas," "the ghosts of history appear to reappear", and in "the blue hour... of every ambition... [there is] Innocence in every motion that seeks/ another ensemble, in the purity/ that is only purity." Nightshades' soulful performances strike a balance of classic and modern. In their communing music, the reader is lifted, heartened and warmed. 

-Elana Wolff, author of Swoon, winner of the 2020 Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Poetry 


Transversales, Michael Gessner, Poetry

"Michael Gessner’s new collection, Transversales, is formally dazzling—incisive, witty, and smart—but compassion tempers linguistic brilliance. In a series set in Paris, for instance, a visit (against advice) to the “labyrinth of tented markets,” the now-dangerous Market of Seine-Saint-Denis, is punctuated dramatically by fragmented quotations from Victor Hugo’s diary kept during the siege of Paris (1871). Quite simply, I am hooked on this book. Gessner’s poems are glory."

 —Cynthia Hogue, author of Or Consequence


"There’s music of the mind in Michael Gessner’s Transversales, the investigating intelligence and haunting observations of a flâneur out of Walter Benjamin whose path time travels and intersects the lines of other alienated realities. A deft mastery marks these poems. “The Markets of Seine-Saint-Denis” is a kind of tour de force; a trip to the “home of the homeless” where both the past and the present “are eating the unknown.” I am haunted by his imagery, as when he evokes the rain as “the patterings of an unknown companion, lost and distant, now returned to wrap this house in sheets of itself.” I am struck by his poetic intelligence, as his lines intersect us with a sense of a beingness that is everywhere “political, which means the beast is in costume.”

—Rebecca Seiferle, author of Wild Tongue

The Writer's Circle, Michael Gessner

"In this stunning collection Michael Gessner pays full attention to the marginal and the marginalized—whether unwashed, rejected, condemned, or simply unusual—and brilliantly inhabits them, evoking their passions, their yearnings, and also the rare strands of hope that sustain and illuminate."

—Grace Dane Mazur, author of Hinges:  Meditations on the Portals of the Imagination

Selected Poems, Michael Gessner

"To my ear, Michael Gessner’s oeuvre chimes distinctly and gorgeously with Merrillesque tones, but piqued with Auden’s love of the clear-eyed. This is a collection interested in way-finding across a life’s work; it is Keatsian in its capabilities, both of the negative sort and not."

-Foreword by Tyler Meier

Analects, Michael Gessner

Selected from more than four decades of journal keeping, and with additional excerpts from published essays, Analects speaks to the general reader, and specifically to those who have interests in poetry and poetics. The reader will not come away without encountering helpful insights and disclosures about writing and literature in this collection.

Artificial Life, Michael Gessner

"This collection, ARTIFICIAL LIFE, includes several night scenes, lit as if by an expanding network of fireflies. From a lofty but wordless height, the poet suddenly swoops towards some arresting detail--a party spilling onto a street, a compromised accountant, a wedding photograph, an urban development site, a picnic by a lake, wrinkles on a dog's face, an old lady in the mountains. Even a casual relationship is approached by means of a kind of fidelity, its incompleteness illuminated by a valid unsentimentality. And before he departs again, the poet leaves behind, in his words, an indelible quality, rather as the music of Apollo's lyre is said, by Ovid, to have lingered in the masonry of the walls at Alcathoe"

 —Martin Turner

Surfaces, Michael Gessner

Twenty ekphrastic poems on various photographs, sketches, paintings and music by Botticelli, Monet, Copland, and others.  Cover notes by Lawrence Joseph and Alison Hawthorne Deming. Publications in which some of the poems first appeared: American Literary Review, Buffalo Spree Magazine, Chiron Review, Nimrod, Pacific Review, Paterson Literary Review, Poem (U AL Pr.,) Sycamore Review, (Purdue U. Pr.,) Wallace Stevens Journal


On Location, Michael Gessner

These are essays of place, locations where people have found themselves: a tree garden, a historic courthouse in New York's Revolutionary War corridor, an ancient volcano in central Arizona, a man's home given over to birds, Seneca's boyhood home in Ostia Antica, the shores of California's Salton Sea, Philadelphia's Wissahickon where Edgar Allan Poe spent idle hours drifting in a skiff. On Location, Essays of Place attempts to assemble the influences of location, and their necessity to human identity. Colored prints and illustrations.

The Custodian's Journal, Michael Gessner

Simon Walker has been keeping a journal of his last year living on the grounds of the university, the only home he has ever known. In it, he offers an account of his 'family', from kitchen-worker confidants to Nobelists and high-ranking university officials. Among these interlocking narratives, he explains his involuntary transfer to Harmony House, a home for the unfit and unwanted. His chronicle captures the politics of ambition, intrigue, and fame of those who surround him and his own curious contributions which will affect them all.


"A great talent." - Ray Powers, Scott & Field

"An important satire on the culture of institutions and the uses of in allegory" - Walter Proctor

"Structurally ingenious." - Jonathan Galassi, Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Beast Book, Michael Gessner

"These poems are lively and smart and musical."

—Robert Pinsky


"Spun like fractals from the poet's personal and cultural history; from art, science, and myth, the images of Beast Book stalk the imagination, exposing the symmetries deep within the psychogenesis that informs us . . . . dialectic serves this collection well in its motifs- poet-anima, satyr-sylph, Apollonian-Dionysian-in the process of illuminating our understanding and in the perception of the self . . . . Gessner's best volume, a milestone in contemporary poetry."

 —Gerald Mills

Letters, Michael Gessner

An alphabetic (experimental) longpoem for multiple voices in 26 sections published as a limited edition of 26 copies, signed and numbered.  

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