Greg Wrenn’s debut collection opens with a long poem in which a man undergoes surgery to become a centaur. Other poems speak in voices as varied as those of Robert Mapplethorpe, Hercules, and a Wise Man at the birth of Jesus. Centaur skitters along the blurred lines between compulsivity and following one’s heart, stasis and self-realization, human and animal. Here, suffering and transcendence are restlessly conjoined.
“Water is appropriately the last word in a book as paradoxically elusive and clear as the humid air between lovers, the ‘murky stream,’ the ‘flooded meadow,’ ‘the clear winter sea.’ The magic here, like the best magic, transforms with each encounter. Fluid, tempered, atmospheric: Centaur is a beautiful, encompassing debut.”
“The terrific, turbulent poems in Greg Wrenn’s Centaur seem as much etched as written—acid-exact, black promises on white possibilities, lines and space crosshatched with thrilling precision. These poems will startle you at first, and then haunt you long after.”
— J. D. McClatchy, editor of The Yale Review and author of Hazmat
“These powerful poems mark the aliveness, suffering and sensuality of the body. They map out erotic adventures and the loneliness of human need. They flout danger with superb lyric craft. But they don't stop there. Each poem offers a paradigm of yearning held together by a rare excellence of language and music. This is a marvelous debut collection.”
—Eavan Boland, author of A Journey with Two Maps
“Centaur testifies to the grave fact that humans can harm each other until they want to trade in their bodies: ‘I want to feel alive,’ says the man seeking to become a centaur as the book begins. This is a masterful poetic debut marked by lyric brilliance and difficult, yet gleaming, wisdom.”
—Katie Ford, author of Colosseum