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Titles 1998-2018

Wolf Centos, Simone Muench


Wolf Centos is comprised of a patchwork form that originated around the fourth century. Reconfiguring pre-existing poetic texts into new systems of imagery and ideas, the author places poets in conversation with one another across centuries and continents. Though the poems are explicitly sutured together by the motif of the wolf, they are also linked by elements of textuality, loss, desire, and transformation. Wolf Centos is ultimately elegiac while acknowledging that as we age and experience loss, we must retain our “wildness”—the wolf’s wilderness— inside us.

For a classroom-ready reader's guide written by the author herself, follow this link, and explore more titles with reader's guides in Sarabande in Education.

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Additional Info

Simone Muench is the recipient of an NEA poetry fellowship, two Vermont Studio Center fellowships, two Illinois Arts fellowships, a Yaddo residency, an Artsmith residency, and the Bright Lights/Big Verse PSA Award. She is the author of five full-length collections including Orange Crush and Lampblack & Ash, which was an Editor’s Choice at The New York Times Book Review


"Muench’s brief fifth collection, composed of short poems all titled “Wolf Cento,” would not be out of place beside “True Blood,” “Twilight” (or Team Jacob, anyway) and other popular fantasies of escaped inner monsters. Muench employs the cento, a poetic form in which all the language is taken from other poets’ poems. . . . Muench’s wolf is a bit like Ted Hughes’s crow: menacing, weirdly sexy and open to interpretation."
New York Times Book Review

"How easily one becomes enraptured by Muench’s new collection, given its surprising collisions of images, gorgeous lucidity, and the linguistic fecundity of each vital line. . . . So ingeniously, seamlessly, and provocatively does Muench arrange her selections, her potent patterns and imaginative juxtapositions retain the beauty and power of the original language while coalescing, alchemically, in original poems of haunting reverie, raw hunger, and struck wonder."
— Booklist

"Simone Muench’s poetry has always had about it a kind of personal urgency, the sense that image and lyric fully realized offer the self its best landscape. In Wolf Centos that urgency is, if anything, heightened by the constraints of the “cento,” in which all of the poem’s words are taken from other sources. Excused from narrative and anecdote, in a space of deliberate invention, Muench explores the self, desire, hunger, discrimination, animal sound, and song in quick, provisional spaces, often seen the wolf’s chill, primal natural setting but caught, as well, in the poet’s own sharp urban geometries. Her wolf is complex and protean, a familiar, whose howl inhabits and enables the articulate explorations of these powerful poems."
—Michael Anania

“Simone Muench has stitched together a new creature out of scraps and vital organs she gathered in the boneyard. It lives. It leaps. It bounds. It’s at your window tonight. Too late for you, sweetheart.”
—Daniel Handler

"Reading this book, I wanted cento to mean what it means in quattrocento. I wanted the book to last a century, a cycle. But also to name a period of social and aesthetic transformation. Perhaps we “played the wolf or the witch”; perhaps we were punished for these things, for the ways we had of being against the social. This book’s cunning is that it makes this idea in the most social way, from the storehouse of language. But I hear in it the realization that we must be against the social absolutely, if this present world is ever to pass away; we must go forward into the wolf century, and I want this book with me."
 –Joshua Clover