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A CHILD OF STORM: POEMS

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Like Whitman listening to Kraftwerk, Michael J. Wilson’s A Child of Storm fuses the incandescent pulse of the forest with vivid projections of the life of Nikola Tesla. These currents turn together, a luminous aurora of sap, electricity, biography, and ecology in this profound collection of poems. Filaments of pine, electric chairs, fruit, and Faraday cages, A Child of Storm is a new transcendentalist triumph.

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“Wilson’s debut, an amalgamation of biography, personal musing, and an obsession with electricity, constructs distinctive–and informative–narratives that revolve around the life of Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla. As he teases out facets of electrical history, Wilson broadens his focus to include Thomas Edison, Michael Faraday, and other inventors, as well as their inventions. The poems’ titles intimate the directions of the work: “Tesla and Edison Argue,” “William Kemmler & the Electric Chair,” “Faraday Cage.” Wilson gives shape and feeling to their lives, as when he writes in Tesla’s voice, “I will build a city of light/ capture the sun/ drive my fists into the ground until I split the earth in two.” This theme of light–and its iterations of lightning and electrical current–forms a brilliant and subtle thread linking many of the poems. Similarly, Wilson uses the past to tether his own story to something bigger. While on Houston Street in New York City, he remembers, “Tesla left for the west after this city beat him down…” – Publisher’s Weekly

“A Child of Storm is charged with a seductive, sophisticated intelligence. Wilson’s deft, deliberate, graceful poetics form a mesmerizing network of narrative and felt fragments that gain in power and resonance as the collection builds upon itself. The kinetic inventiveness of form and voice travelers a truly alluring structural path, and reward the reader with an addictive lyric hybrid of the historic and the intimate.” – Quintan Ana Wikswo, author of The Hope of Floating Has Carried Us This Far

“To put it mildly, A Child of Storm is eloquently, elegantly devastating. If you want far reaching intellectual, economic and cultural injustice, the spiritual cost of human life, and grief that lands softly as pollen at dawn, this is the book to read.” – Genelle Chaconas, Milkfist

“Taken together, the effect is panoramic, taken individually, these poems are probing, lyrical, intimate. A series of history lessons, empathetic meditations on Tesla and on trees, love and 9/11, these poems crackle with energy and a compelling, intelligent calm that can ask unanswerable questions like, “What does a glass of light look like?” and leave you sure that the truth is in the asking.” – Constance Squires, author of Along the Watchtower

“The force that through the green fuse drives the flower / Drives my green age,” wrote Dylan Thomas, in lines that kept echoing through my head as I read Michael Wilson’s striking debut. Anchored by poems about Nikola Tesla and poems about trees, Child of Storm offers a stark and electric visual palette, as Wilson engages currents historical and personal, natural and made. – Dana Levin, author of Banana Palace

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POETRY