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  • (Out of Stock) Poems From The Wilderness

(Out of Stock) Poems From The Wilderness

Winner of the Proverse Prize 2019

Jack Mayer

English , 2020/08 Proverse Hong Kong

Tags: Poetry

216 x 140 x 6 mm , 100pp ISBN / ISSN : 978-988-8491-87-2

  • US$22.00

Out Of Stock

An American doctor/poet composes wilderness poems while hiking Vermont’s Long Trail. The author shares his love of the American wilderness, a deep-rooted appreciation and questioning of nature, spirit, and creation. 

Wilderness inspired poems composed on the trail by an American doctor/poet, sharing his love of the backcountry, trail-walking, camping, and the “wilderness effect,” a unique sensation of aliveness and deep connection.  Mayer’s poetry explores our human experience of the natural world, our intimate and mysterious connections to flora and fauna. It proclaims the opportunity that walking mindfully in the wilderness offers to experience the divine. The uniqueness and intensity of these musings lead his poems to attempt reconciliation of our lived experience with physics, spirit, and music, the latter manifested in his experience of singing to the dying; the wisdom of nature rendered in music and consolation.  A few poems are inspired by Mayer’s medical practice. Some spring from his ordinary life and reflections on his childhood and family, which have followed him into the woods.


“Ever since Emerson sent American poets into the woods to discover their souls, the connections between language and spirit have been steadily forged on this continent. Jack Mayer is a writer I've long admired, and in these bright, sensuous, deeply reflective poems we encounter a wilderness that exists on many levels:  the Vermont trails that he loves, walks and dreams, and the contours of his own expansive spirit. I read these poems with increasing pleasure, and plan to return to them again and again. Mayer is a fine, fresh voice in American poetry.”

—Jay Parini, author of, New and Collected Poems, 1975-2015


“These poems, entered into the notebooks of Long Trail shelters by Jack Mayer’s avatar the Mountain Poet, recall such earlier wilderness poets as Han Shan and Gary Snyder. Like those ancestors’ dispatches from the heights, they combine reflections on time and reality with the glow of physical exertion in the open air. Mayer’s humor also bubbles up in ways that make his voice a distinctive and delightful addition to this lineage.”

—John Elder, author of, Reading the Mountains of Home


“The American state of Vermont—and by extension the wider world—has gained a winner in the poet Jack Mayer. Who would have thought that Walt Whitman would ever return? In his nature-reverent, creation-respecting poems celebrating the great outdoors and asking the profound questions pertaining to human existence, Mayer has not only taken on the spiritual mantle of Whitman, but has given it his own always candid, humble and awed veneer, across more than 55 concise pieces. Refreshing, reflective, rewarding.”

—Vaughan Rapatahana, poet, literary critic, essayist and novelist, winner of the inaugural Proverse Poetry Prize 


“Jack Mayer’s free verse, like his universe, is ruled by the poet’s inveterate unity with nature; he is one with the mountain birds, contemplating an American landscape that shapes his poetry and is shaped by it. Finding sacredness in the most common sights and sounds of nature, he tries to make sense out of memory and time through hiking and looks at man’s paradoxical insignificance and centrality in God’s creation. From dizzying heights, he surveys human civilization, and its discontents, with a scientific eye which knows that there is something in the human experience that escapes science—something that makes him animate his hiking tools, giving them life, lamenting their decay, and mourning their death. The hiking trails, the memories, and poetry are all things that Mayer learned to master, yet they keep fascinating him endlessly.”

—Ahmed Elbeshlawy, author of Savage Charm


“[Mayer] follows a long tradition of poets and thinkers who seek in nature the truth of the human condition.... His thoughtful, intelligent observations from the ‘cosmological wilderness’ reveal not only the invisible winds, footfalls, and crinkling dead leaves but also an understanding of desire, grace, and frailty.... This communion with nature on the trail that Mayer eloquently calls his ‘enduring house of worship’ provides wisdom and revelations and showcases the enduring bond betwen humans and the natural world.”

—Michelle Jacobs in The US Review of Books.

Jack Mayer is a Vermont writer and pediatrician. He was an anti-Vietnam war activist in the ’60s and was arrested at a demonstration in Chicago in 1969. His legal case, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court (Mayer vs. City of Chicago, 1971), established the right of indigents to have court costs paid by the state. (By the time he was in medical school he had college and medical school debts. His only valuable possessions were his microscope and textbooks. In a New York Times article about his trial, the Chicago judge was quoted as expressing his surprise that in America a medical student could be judged an indigent.)

In 1976 Dr Mayer established the first pediatric practice in Vermont’s Eastern Franklin County on the Canadian border, where he began writing about his practice and hiking Vermont’s Long Trail. In the ’80s Mayer was an anti-nuclear activist and New England delegate to Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Dr Mayer was a National Cancer Institute Fellow at Columbia University, researching the molecular biology of cancer (1987-1991). He established Rainbow Pediatrics in Middlebury, Vermont, in 1991 and continues to practice pediatrics there. He is an Instructor in Pediatrics at the University of Vermont School of Medicine and a pre-med mentor at Middlebury College. He was a participant at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 2003 and 2005 (fiction) and 2008 (poetry). His first non-fiction book is Life In A Jar: The Irena Sendler Project. His new book, Before The Court Of Heaven, is historical fiction. 

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