D. R. Wagner's


 4 Volumes, 438pp in total. Illustrations by Bodhi, Steven Kenny, Elizabeth Chape, Brock Alexander, and Fred Dalkey
 Soft Cover & Perfect Bound, 9" x 7"

$99.95 for the boxed set
Limited and Numbered in an edition of 200

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D.R. Wagner makes poems about mornings, afternoons and evenings. Each is filled with the flutters of memory and the birds of love. In The Stillness Before Speech, a most marvelously personal collection, Wagner writes about the sting and relief and fragility of living. He is a maker, one hardly knows if the words are written, stitched, or sung. The poetry in this new collection capture the heart like a longing-hunter. There are worlds in every poem—longings of the spirit and a warm, pumping heart. These poems are saturated with pain and relief and the smell of morning coffee.

~ Meg Pokrass, author of The Loss Detector


As with Emily Dickinson’s best work, the poems in D.R. Wagner’s The Stillness Before Speech reside not in obvious moments, but in the in-betweens—taking the reader on a contemplative journey to the spaces between the dream and the dreamer, between the stanza and its spell, between thought and its articulation. Here, the word is an incantation, a "light in the throat," "a field of ghosts who whistle a tune." In these liminal places, the reader’s mind becomes, itself, a wonder-filled, contemplative space. The feeling of reading The Stillness Before Speech is much like looking up at the night sky. You feel so small, so big, so open and connected to everything in the universe that you never want to leave but to stay instead forever in that moment of awed unknowing. As Wagner says, in the beautiful ending to the poem "Breaking the Dreamer": You may contact us at any time by /Making references to specific / Birds. Answer as few questions / As possible. Always remain amazed.

~ Melissa Studdard, author of I Ate The Cosmos For Breakfast

In this masterful new collection, D. R. guides his readers through worlds of memory, dream, and the more powerful cusp between waking and dreaming. Always alive to the possibility of language, always willing to follow language where it leads, D. R. uses exquisite descriptions of the everyday and the surreal to take us deep into the labyrinth where the power of the psyche resides. Magnificent!

~ Stanley Zumbiel, author of Standing Watch


D. R. Wagner speaks intimately in a lyrical language, his voice singular, authentic, his images beautiful, expressive. His style has an ebb and flow inviting you to join him on his journey of experiencing the mysteries of love and art. He bridges the gap between himself and the world around him; caves move their mouths and tell stories, crows seem to recognize him, the moon raids his bedroom. By the end of this collection we know, "what fills the heart or leaves/It open for visitation by miracles." Life becomes an art form as he reaches out with both arms, his heart embracing the "objects of his desire."

~ Lara Gularte, author of Kissing The Bee

What I especially love about this book is the way it honors the precariousness and thereby the preciousness of each moment—how the poems find music inside the silences and silences inside the music ("It is the secret music/Folded and bent to fit/In the pocket. Harp-like/Tones in the throat.")—how they show us that beauty lives inside precariousness and, at every step of each day, precariousness lives inside beauty. The poems are so alive with that thrum of the ecstatic--the poet’s senses are so alive with it--that they pulse through us with their profound understanding of fragility—"This life is holy./ Whatever we do is holy. Whatever is said/ is holy."

~ Susan Kelly-DeWitt, author of Gravitational Tug


Wagner has mastered several media including music, painting, fabric art, gallery curating, teaching, writing, and visual and lexical poetry. Within his lexical poetry, all and more are found vividly woven in lyrically bright rainbow spectrum scapes. Like his acknowledged multimedia poetic father, Kennth Patchen, the foundational warp of the Wagner floor to wall to ceiling lyric tapestries is the vertical reach to strum the transcendent strings harmonizing the visionary moment. These visions are not deconstructive chaos but lyrical wholeness for inner healing. Wagner has lifted it higher, without Patchen’s self righteous tug; his is an unconditional, compassionate strumming. In a land or a dream scape illuminating the known and the allusive periphery, his offerings give access to a variety of spiritual heartfelt seeing instances which opens to the veiled knowable unknown, delivering these offerings with a sublime grace that define the moment we all so earnestly pursue.

~ Karl Kempton, author of poems about something & nothing

D.R. Wagner’s Years of Pilgrimage: Selected Poems offers us luminous, open-armed, transcendental, visionary work, poems aware of the body, the sea, desire, and the moon. I read D.R. Wagner to feel again, to remember love, and music, and the mysticism of the natural world, where "The sun works a terrible magic." There is a sense of a lifelong pilgrim rounding a curve, witnessing and feeling without artifice. It requires a seasoned audacity to claim that "we are indeed the door to the heavens." By the end of this collection, I believe him.

~ Diane Seuss, author of Four-Legged Girl

A life foundationed by poetry becomes the more rare and precious as it grows longer. DR Wagner is an exemplar of this principle, and this book—this cluster of books—is its measure. The title is a phrase with accents on every syllable: the time spent, the distance traveled, the ports of call with their wonders and their horrors. This pilgrim is on a desperate, numinous voyage, but he is no Odysseus: there is no Ithaca for him and no Penelope in the patient distance. The journey has no destination. It is its own reason for being. This is the journey of a lifetime, brilliant and obdurate and steely as an astrolabe. And the sentience who speaks here is neither a warrior nor a schemer but a sorcerer, a Prospero with his library burned into his brain: "I carried a long clamor with me," he sings, "Through the night as if it had / A backbone or some sort of family / Clinging to its skin like a theology."

~ T. R. Hummer, author of After The Afterlife