“All sass and smarts, Adele Elise Williams’ Wager does the duende—that dance with death Lorca said all great poems risk. In life and in art, Williams meets the prospect and memory of annihilation with ferocious honesty, linguistic play, and wit. Deeply moving, deeply fun to read, Wager makes telling the hard truths a tonic.”


Dana Levin, author of Now Do You Know Where You Are

“Wager bets it all: the body, language, mothers, men, writing workshops, houses. Clarifying and lacerating, Williams reminds me that poetry is the one pure thing. Especially when it burns like vodka on an open wound. ‘You are fucked if you are in love, or if you are not in love, then you / can be fucked too.” This is all I want from poems.’”

—Kate Durbin, author of Hoarders

2024 Miller Williams Poetry Prize Finalist

University of Arkansas Press

You may scan the first few lines of “Gal,” the first poem in this book, but then you will not, under any circumstances, be able to resist reading every other single word of every other single poem aloud, relishing the rollick, the swiveling syntax, the familiar rendered oh-so-gloriously unfamiliar, the snap-crackle, the profound and the puckish. Adele Williams’ poems rivet—and refuse to release you.
Patricia Smith
Series Editor