The author of Words Before Dawn, William Wenthe, has published two books of poems, Not Till We Are Lost (LSU Press, 2004) and Birds of Hoboken (Orchises Press, 1995, reprint 2003). He has received poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Texas Commission on the Arts, and two Pushcart Prizes. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, The Georgia Review, TriQuarterly, Ninth Letter, The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Ontario Review, Open City, Tin House and other journals and anthologies. His critical essays on the craft of poetry have appeared recently in The Yale Review and Kenyon Review. Born and raised in New Jersey, he has lived in Manhattan and Virginia, where he received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia; since 1992 he has taught creative writing and modern poetry at Texas Tech University.
Dr. Wenthe had this to say about Words Before Dawn:
Words Before Dawn is drawn from poems written over many years; the oldest is close to fifteen years old; the ones that concern my daughter are, obviously, no older than her (she's a little over two). For a long time I've been concerned with the connection - and the disruption - between artistic representations of life, and life itself: between the representation and the real. A year and a half ago I had the idea that I could organize a book around this concern in my poems, and began to select and arrange poems that share this concern. I've by no means settled the issue; but a book of poems allows for many angles, viewpoints, voices, to query, concur, and contradict each other. There's a wide range of subjects - from Dick Cheney to Rembrandt, trout fishing to the Russian Revolution-written in a variety of formal and free verse; but overall the book moves, generally speaking, in an arc from the historical to the personal. This collection has been a long time coming, and I'm thrilled to have it recognized by this award.