Finalist for the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize.
A compendium of clues and the mysteries they point to, THE NATURE THIEF begins in the shadow of a crime: something’s amiss. In poems that take the part of felon and victim, detective and witness, judge and jury, the case becomes more puzzling and more ancient: what’s gone missing is not only an apple from the Garden, or fire from Olympus, or what Ophelia calls “the beauteous majesty of Denmark,” but nothing less than a world, a compendium of thefts over which all of us, thieves ourselves, keep watch.
“Henry Walters writes with the whole of the English language on hand, and in his springing poems, sprung from Hamlet, sprung from experience, a marbled pebble is as eye-opening as a manuscript by Aeschylus. Bitterns plus automatic car washes plus Greek grammar plus fennec foxes plus the angels of the future equals a wingding of a book. These poems are occasions to rise to, exhilaratingly, and reading them I felt ‘the free carom of delight.’ There is no Henry Walters but Henry Walters, and English has never been fresher.” — Amy Leach
“‘What’s more precise than precision? Illusion,’ wrote Marianne Moore. By illusion, I think she meant imagination, one like her own—slippery, cavorting, but also somehow revealing the deeper aspects of the natural world, other people, even herself. Whether walking in the woods or meeting a newborn, Henry Walters looks with precision at his surroundings. But in THE NATURE THIEF, we revel even more in his rambunctious, reality-seeking imagination. ‘Each day I’m cracked wide open / to let your risen body pass.’ Here is a poet who connects idiosyncrasies of ancient Greek grammar to our modern-day bee crisis, who knows that ‘precarious descends from sounds that meant to pray,’ who hears ‘hesitant start-of-the-rain-storm choliambs.’ I’ve experienced few recent pleasures like Walters’ unguarded complexities.” — Nate Klug
“Recent death knells to the contrary, it appears the traditions of Western literature haven’t died an unceremonious death. Neither relic nor homage nor restoration, Henry Walters’ THE NATURE THIEF gives proof to Faulkner’s famous adage: ‘The past is not dead, it is not even past.’ Poetry is a history of language, and Walters’ full-throated poems are pitched high and low, lyrical at one moment, street-wise the next, drawing on sources as various as a deconstructed Hamlet, a Greek grammar, the sound of a pool ball dropping into a leather pocket. Nothing is unlikely to find its way in, and nothing is unlikely to be burnished by the lyrical sway of this erudite and immensely talented poet.” — Sherod Santos
“Henry Walters’s poetic vehicle is ignited by ingenuity, fueled by extravagance, and guided by form. His tradition is Joycean, and he too delights in eldritch diction and in wordplay gaudy (the ‘explosive ink’) and disguised (‘the rigor of mortise work’ and even ‘Give me light & a lift’). Among other things an apiologist, he is himself a polylect, as well as a precise maximalist, a lyricist of science, a builder of breaches that bridge (‘a crack’s / a form of bond’), a mainstream eccentric.” — Stephen Yenser
Henry Walters was born in Chicago in 1984 and grew up in Clinton, Michigan. After studying Classics at Harvard University and in Rome under the late Reginald Foster, he lived as a falconer's apprentice in Ireland and a beekeeper's assistant in Sicily before returning to the United States, where he has worked as a seasonal biologist, postal carrier, census-taker, gardener, carpenter, baseball coach, actor, teacher, playwright, and birding guide. His poems, translations, reviews, and essays have appeared in periodicals such as The Threepenny Review, The Yale Review, Orion, Literary Imagination, and New Letters, and his first book, Field Guide A Tempo, was a finalist for the 2016 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He lives in New Hampshire with his young family, a hive of bees, and a hawk.