Evidence of Things Seen
Sheep Meadow Press
Wollman’s full-length collection, Evidence of Things Seen (Sheep Meadow Press), engages history, most often the Holocaust, as the poems travel back and forth between New England and Provence. Ever mindful of Theordor Adorno’s words of caution—“to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric”—the poet explores the barbarism in “A Cemetery Affair,” the poem that anchors the collection, as he roams the French landscape and finds his evidence in a grave desecration of holocaust survivor, Félix Germon, that occurred in 1990.
Stuck on the Bible, stuck on Provence, stuck on New England, stuck on Comparative Literature, Wollman does not mind dirtying his face and hands with truth. In this first book, Wollman’s evidence, his discoveries, are worth the attention of any thinking reader. —Stanley Moss
What Wollman himself speaks of, “the plain grandeur of the ordinary evening,” is true of many of his poems. —Samuel Menashe
Slate Roof Press (forthcoming, Winter 2022)
Winner of the Elyse Wolf Poetry Prize
Changeable Gods is a remarkable book in which Wollman uses clear and lyrical human speech to create a long poem of enormous complexity. The gods he speaks of do not always inspire trust, but do, however, inspire lyric poetry of sheer beauty:
…last night’s sky when I left you, Orion tilted and reeling, the handle of the dipper pointing to the earth like a dangling chain; you in your jeweled bed while I drove between the constellations.
These are poems of love, unabashedly so, and because, like all love poems, they try to express the experience of new life, they sometimes speak of the lover as someone capable of giving or taking away life: Your mouth is the place I go to breathe. But they are not songs of innocence; they are songs of experience. The poet may find himself, like the young romantic Yeats, “looped in the loops of her hair,” but this is not his first labyrinth. While in thrall to his lover’s charms, the poet still reserves some part of himself, allowing himself a thought or two that might not please his lover to hear: I’ve borne storms more than once, convinced / that love could never be enough.
When, in the last poem of the sequence, the gods take flight and the poet is thrown back upon himself, he has that self to fall back on, complex and yes, changeable—deeply changed by having participated in the creation of days unlike any others.
—Alfred Nicol, author of Animal Psalms and Elegy for Everyone
To order Changeable Gods (forthcoming Winter 2022) please visit Slate Roof Press https://www.slateroofpress.com/
A Cemetery Affair
Finishing Line Press
Richard Wollman is an erudite, well-read man whose knowledge, instead of distancing him from the everyday woes and pleasures of life, has only more deeply rooted him in the soil of our shared human stories. As the man, so the poems, in this fine first chapbook of an offering!
The conversational and calm tone in A Cemetery Affair gathers strongly in each poem to reveal considerable intensity of feeling. The voice matches the steadfast gaze of the speaker, which starts on surfaces in the French countryside, then moves inward where the possibilities are. The poems are compassionate and composed. Mr. Wollman is absolutely genuine.