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Baron Wormser

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Baron Wormser
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Born in Baltimore, Maryland, on February 4, 1948, Baron Wormser grew up in Baltimore, where he attended high school at Baltimore City College. He studied English at Johns Hopkins University and received his MA in English from the University of California, Irvine, in 1970. That same year he moved to Maine, where he worked as a librarian for twenty-five years and taught poetry writing at the University of Maine at Farmington. From 1975 to 1998 Wormser lived with his family in an off-the-grid house on forty-eight acres of land in Mercer.

Wormser, who has been described as “a beautiful writer of the meditative-narrative poem in the compassionate and lucid style of Frost, Hayden Carruth, and Donald Hall” by Tony Hoagland, is the author of nine books of poetry, including Impenitent Notes (CavanKerry Press, 2011), Scattered Chapters (Sarabande Books, 2008), and Carthage (Illuminated Sea Press, 2005); and five books of prose, including the novel Teach Us That Peace (Piscataqua Press, 2013), the short story collection The Poetry Life (CavanKerry Press, 2008), and a memoir, The Road Washes Out in Spring (University Press of New England, 2006).

In his poems, Wormser uses plain, unpretentious speech, and his verse reflects his love of and familiarity with rural New England. “Baron Wormser’s incandescent, exacting, generous intelligence never allows him the luxury of detachment. Like all real subversion, his poetry hinges on responsibility. If there’s irony, it’s the irony of reality, of tragedy: the only animal that claims to know itself cannot save itself. Wormser can show you what’s inside those emotions—hope, desire—whose outsides have names,” writes D. Nurkse.

Wormser’s honors include the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry and the Kathryn A. Morton Prize, as well as fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2000, Maine Governor Angus King appointed Wormser state poet laureate, a position he held for six years.

He is the director of educational outreach at The Frost Place in Franconia, New Hampshire, and teaches in the low-residency MFA creative writing program at Fairfield University at Enders Island, Connecticut. He lives in Cabot, Vermont.


Impenitent Notes (CavanKerry Press, 2011)
Scattered Chapters (Sarabande Books, 2008)
Carthage (Illuminated Sea Press, 2005)
Subject Matter (Sarabande Books, 2003)
Mulroney and Others (Sarabande Books, 2000)
When (Sarabande Books, 1997)
Atoms, Soul Music and Other Poems (Paris Review Press, 1989)
Good Trembling (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1985)
The White Words (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1983)

Teach Us That Peace (Piscataqua Press, 2013)
The Poetry Life (CavanKerry Press, 2008)

The Road Washes Out in Spring (University Press of New England, 2006)
The Surge of Language: Teaching Poetry Day by Day (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000)
Teaching the Art of Poetry: The Moves (Routledge, 2000)

by this poet


I rise before the sun does. Each morning I sit on the edge of the bed with my feet planted on the unlovely linoleum floor and I say slowly but quite distinctly to the darkness, "Sweet joy befall thee." I feel like an actor speaking the first words of a play except my life is no play nor does my soul need an

A moment from a life--a husband holding up
A tee-shirt for cursory inspection;
A child trudging home from a dull school day;
A tree in heavy wind--when placed within

The careful rails of verse acquires the dear,
Facile pout of meaning. It's a feeling
Rather than a faith since faith knows
Its way beforehand,