#TPQ5: WILLIAM WARD BUTLER

Tim Dlugos – A Fast Life: The Collected Poems

Tim Dlugos is perhaps one of the finest poets of the New York School, but his work had largely flown under the radar after his death from AIDS in 1990—now, thanks to the literary stewardship of David Trinidad, Tim Dlugos’ poems full of feeling and wonder are gathered in this collection from Nightboat Books. As I read Tim’s work I felt, at once, that I had no choice but to fall in love with him and to feel heartbroken that he was gone.

Louise Glück – Poems 1962 – 2012

Although I can’t find it now, I swear that I once saw a quote from Frank Bidart that said something like: “There is no finer education in contemporary poetry than to read everything Louise Glück has written.” Whether or not I’m making that quote up, I wholeheartedly agree and recommend this collection spanning Glück’s lifelong career to anyone, but especially to young poets.

The New Testament – Jericho Brown

The world is a better place simply for having Jericho Brown in it. The New Testament is a collection I return to often; I marvel at the craft and exactness of these poems.

Luminous Debris: New & Selected Ledgerdemain – Timothy Liu

This is a wonderful collection of work from a poet whose work I closely admire. Timothy Liu’s poetry contains a throughline of what happens when one loses their faith and finds it in unexpected places; his poems exist in the space between the sacred and the profane, and arrive at moments of complete profundity.

Like a Beggar – Ellen Bass

We should all be taking notes from Ellen Bass on how to live and how to write poems. Like a Beggar is a masterful book replete with humor, wisdom, and compassion—I’m eagerly awaiting Ellen Bass’s next book Indigo, out from Copper Canyon Press in April.


William Ward Butler is a writer and educator from Northern California. His chapbook Life History is forthcoming from Ghost City Press in March. He is a member of the Hive Poetry Collective which organizes poetry events in Santa Cruz County and produces a weekly radio show/podcast of conversations with poets. He works for Bookshop Santa Cruz and the Young Writers Program in Santa Cruz to coordinate Word Lab, a free after-school writing program for middle school and high school students. You can find him online at williamwardbutler.com

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