Project Description

Paul Nemser

Paul Nemser grew up in Portland, Oregon, where he fell in love with poetry while reading in the storage room in back of his family’s tool store. He received an AB from Harvard College where he studied with Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop, and an MFA in Writing from Columbia University School of the Arts where he studied with Stanley Kunitz and many others. He also received a JD from Boston University School of Law. His love of reading and writing poetry has been essential throughout his life.

Nemser’s book Taurus won the 2011 New American Poetry Prize from New American Press. His chapbook Tales of the Tetragrammaton was published by Mayapple Press. His poems appear widely in magazines, including AGNI, Beloit Poetry Journal, London Review of Books, and The Missouri Review. He lives with his wife Rebecca in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Harborside, Maine.

A Thousand Curves

Winner of the Red Mountain Editor’s Choice Award.

Paul Nemser’s A Thousand Curves contains many thousand brilliances—of language, of content, of perception—with each line indisputably in service to a larger wondering (Before this world,/we passed through clouds of others).  Wild with insight and passion, these poems posit the marriage of body to world, flesh to thing, and exhibit an affinity for the beauty in the ordinary (Breathe in like screws turned in olive wood./Sigh out like milk-happy foals.)  Most of all, these poems are visions from a grounded mystic, a speaker conversant with both the real and the mysterious, love and loss, this side of life and the other, and to experience the scope of this skill and ambition is thrilling. An immense and memorable achievement.

—Joan Houlihan, Author of Shadow-feast

The particular pleasure of reading Paul Nemser’s poems emerges slowly, the reader paying close attention to the use of words, to the sophistication of form, until—suddenly—a cymbal crash that goes straight to the heart. We make our way, as Nemser writes in “After the Calm,” “in weaves/of raspberries that thorn across fences fallen to gaps.” Woven together are myths, impressions both internal and external, memories, and images.  The greatest pleasure, though, at least for me, comes with the surprise of the line that shoots straight at and into us; and so, with clear eyes, we delight in, from “Morning After,” “My pale, my pearl, my onions in a pan.” Every one of Paul Nemser’s poems has its own surprises and its own rewards. Certainly, they engage the intellect, but time after time they open the heart. —Margery Irvine