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Dilemmas of the Angels


88 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / no illustrations

ebook available


  Paperback / 9780807165805 / February 2017
In the series of poems that underpins this collection, David Romtvedt imagines the daily lives of angels as well as other, more earthly, concerns. Whether he is considering the work of raising a child or imagining the work of the divine, Romtvedt displays an appreciation for all that surrounds us. His poems explore features of the Western world while offering accounts of life in Nicaragua, Rwanda, and the Congo. Throughout the collection, he displays an awareness of our remarkably diverse and intrinsically connected planet.
A meditation on the ever-present need to balance our exterior life with our spiritual one, Dilemmas of the Angels is a masterful testament to a universal human struggle.
David Romtvedt is professor of creative writing at the University of Wyoming. The author of more than a dozen books, he has also served as the Poet Laureate of Wyoming and, with the bands Ospa and The Fireants, plays the button accordion.

Praise for Dilemmas of the Angels

“Things happen in these poems, concrete things: a father canoes with his daughter; a husband makes love to his wife; a man watches two Mormon missionaries bicycle down the street. And magical things happen: a man gets a letter from the father who died two weeks before he was born; an angel breaks through the padlocked gate to the Garden of Eden. Inside each poem is not only a world but an intimate constellation, points of darkness and light tied together by gravity and empty space to form a pattern that is as startling as it is beautiful.”—Teresa Jordan, author of Riding the White Horse Home and The Year of Living Virtuously (Weekends Off)

“In Dilemmas of the Angels, David Romtvedt journeys through the whole of a life,writing a world into being where ‘there’s an angel for every little thing,’ for all that is about us: snowdrifts and butcher blocks, the joy of camping in a snow-hut with a daughter on a winter night at twenty-six below, church pews ‘ruined under a rain of machete blows,’ and a dance hall in Zaire that remains open as the bombs fall. There is an astonishing sensibility at work here: wise, awake, quizzical, and joined felicitously to exceptional poetic gifts. The book’s central question is ‘how short life is/ and what is the best thing to do with it.’ Remarkably, these poems provide an answer. Read and by guided by all the winged messenger within, human, avian and celestial. Even the fish fly herein, even we are winged. This is a work for our times, even if by lucky coincidence.”—Carolyn Forché, author of Blue Hour

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