August 10, 2015 Admiral Admin Ackbar

Lesley Wheeler’s Radioland is a spellbinding examination of communication breakdown in all its guises. With seismic heft, Wheeler mines the metaphoric capabilities of tectonic shifts and fault lines, slurred pop lyrics, and the lexicon of new technologies. Throughout, a father’s inscrutability translates into the nonsensical garble and static of old radios. Wheeler’s keen focus on linguistic obfuscations plays in the key of Williams, specifically: It is hard to get the news from poetry. With a flair for received forms and an exacting ear, Wheeler has her finger on the pulse of all that stands in the way of straightforward transmissions, not only of the other but of the self. Wheeler’s facility for naming what doesn’t get said is nothing less than stunning.
—Martha Silano

Lesley Wheeler’s new volume of poems, Radioland, spellbinds with the gorgeous sounds of its poetry: “Drag belly over gravel on a cave-lip / into the TV and sleep in it,” one poem opens. Note the insouciant forging of ancient and quotidian scenes, the modulation of vowels punctuated by v’s: I’m hooked! Wheeler is, among other glories, a consummate formalist, but she is also profound in her exploration of the governing trope of this collection: the deeply human struggles in which families engage to be receptors and transmitters of love (the crisis brought to a head by the unforgiven father’s death). In Radioland’s disturbed emissions and reception, we cannot always tell what’s “[s]ignal and noise,” but at the borderland to the absolute, Wheeler is surefooted in her exploration of love’s echoing “parley” in the world.
—Cynthia Hogue

“As for Twitter, no one’s ever home. Birdsong/ as data, territory marked with light.”

“Reception’s a religion when/ everything whispers”


One door is the will. It leaves you
nothing, not even your name
in the count of surviving children.

One door is a folded standard
the honor guard hands his widow, next
of kin, no kin to you. It’s only cotton

but weighed down with stars. My father once
carved a Möbius band in wood, a triangle
with rounded corners and one continuous

surface. He gave it to me, or I took it, I can’t
remember. Its impossible interior
a portal. A book is always a door:

his Bible, inscribed First Reformed
Sunday School, Brooklyn, 1934
Behind the title, in boyish pencil,

Job 19:21 skin of teeth.
In fact, that’s 19:20, news of escape.
21 implores, Have pity upon me, O ye

my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me.
A threshold where I pause and think, be
empty. Your inheritance is dead air. Receive

without refraction the heaviness of vacancy.
Trace with your finger its curious property
of one-sidedness. Souvenir of the twist.

Buy Radioland (2015) online via our secure payment service, Paypal:
ISBN: 9780989329682