Words Before Dawn - Cover
Goodreads Icon

Words Before Dawn


80 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / no illustrations


  Paperback / 9780807144817 / October 2012
William Wenthe’s third collection begins in the domestic realm then moves outward in subject and place—to a bird market in Paris, the Jaffa Gate in Old Jerusalem, the Chain Bridge in Budapest—before returning to the familial. The poet recalls his own cherished experiences of fatherhood: rocking his infant daughter in the early morning, lying with her outside on a pink flannel sheet, and watching her joyous reaction to the sight of roses. While actively engaged in the artist’s struggle to represent reality, Wenthe draws attention to the particular, to moments and events that seem to exist beyond thoughts and words. In “Uhte,” Wenthe reflects on the Old English name for the hour before dawn: “that word / has haunted me—wondering how that hour / had first called forth a need / to be distinguished by a sound.”
In well-crafted free verse, traditional meter and rhyme, prose poems, and nonce forms, Wenthe meditates on family, language, art, history, and the natural world, striving to find words to capture the richness of life.

William Wenthe was born and raised in New Jersey, the youngest of a family of nine children. He is the author of Words before Dawn, Not Till We Are Lost, and Birds of Hoboken. He lives in Texas with his wife and daughter and teaches poetry at Texas Tech University.

Praise for Words Before Dawn

"In free verse, prose poems, and traditional meter, Wenthe situates the rough beauty of the broader world beside the intimacies of familial devotion, illustrating the ways in which art and love connect and ground us....Wenthe’s pictures of the world become revelatory in both their panoramic scope and intricate detail."—Prime Number Magazine

Found an Error? Tell us about it.