Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009
Assorted Poems is a substantial selection from Susan Wheeler’s four books of poetry, the first of which was published in 1993 and the most recent in 2005. Wheeler’s work is exploratory and ranging. The voice in her poems is assured and very present, and yet her poems often feel as if they are narrating the world from the perspective of a dream or that the world itself is more layered and surreal than we might imagine. The amazing scope of dictions and cultural references in these poems helps ground them in the real touchstones of our thinking. The longer poems in the section from Wheeler’s most recent book reach far and yet draw distances in to create connected spheres of observation. Her poem "Money and God" begins:
In the country of individuation, I struck out
like a match
for the gravid cost. After the copper fields,
the long loops of
the squibs in hillsides spouting the netherworld’s
the chrome architraves over gasoline pumps...
The poems continue to wander through landscapes both real and metaphorical, all the while addressing a potent "you." Poet Joshua Clover said this about Wheeler’s last book: "Economics and emotion face each other across a charged field; stuff gathers in the middle, glitter as a sack of diamonds."