New Title for 2012 » Nonfiction/Memoir
The Words I Chose: A Memoir of Family and Poetry
Beginning in poverty and a broken home, Wesley McNair went on, through family hardships and setbacks, to become what Philip Levine has called "one of the great storytellers of contemporary poetry." This memoir tells how he developed into a poet against the odds, incorporating his struggles into his art.
Wesley McNair is the author or editor of 18 books, including poetry, essays, and anthologies. His most recent volume of verse is Lovers of the Lost: New & Selected Poems. He has won the Theodore Roethke and Robert Frost Prizes, grants from the Fulbright and Guggenheim Foundations, two Rockefeller fellowships, and two NEA grants for creative writing. In 2006 he was selected for a United States Artists Fellowship as one of America's "finest living artists."
In The Words I Chose Wesley McNair has forged an engaging and memorable account of the role that poetry has played in his life as he describes three generations of his family. The story, in its bare outline of hardship and vicissitude, is preposterous but nonetheless true; and the reader is quickly and surely involved in this odd and taxing world of what begins as poverty of nearly every sort imaginable. McNair triumphs over adversity of many kinds, all along making and remaking himself as a poet—and as an essayist to boot. Few poets have ever worked so hard to perfect their craft. Anyone interested in contemporary poetry should relish this memoir, which includes snapshots of Robert Frost, John Nims, Donald Hall, and other accomplished poets, and memorable anecdotes about everything from farm work to the nuts and bolts of poetry.
—George Core, editor of The Sewanee Review
Reading Wesley McNair's superb memoir, The Words I Chose, the word that comes to my mind is nobility. Of character and heart; of ambition and generosity. Another word is honesty, in the Hemingway sense of the word, as in authentic and profound. This story of family is more than a chronicle or history, it's a personal story inside the story each of us carries all our lives. Yes, McNair tells us how he became a poet, of a young man discovering his art, but its meaning stretches beyond that, making it original: this is a story about hope, how when it is necessary to survive despite one's family, despite the sometime bitter auguries of love, truth, and beauty can not only survive, but thrive. With nobility and grace. Powerfully.
—Philip Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Failure
To purchase The Words I Chose by Wesley McNair, please contact our distributor, University Press of New England toll free at 1-800-421-1561 or by fax at 1-603-448-9729. The book is also available online at UPNE, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine retailers.
To request a copy for review, please contact the Carnegie Mellon University Press Editorial Offices at (412) 268-2861 or by email at CarnegieMellonUniversityPress@gmail.com.