Raised by Wolves: Fifty Poets on Fifty Poems, A Graywolf Anthology
Graywolf Press, renowned for its commitment to publishing a rich array of high-quality literature spanning essays, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, is marking its 50th anniversary this year. In celebration of this significant milestone, the press has meticulously curated a compelling anthology, Raised by Wolves, featuring 50 poems authored by 50 poets across the past five decades. This landmark collection embodies the press's dedication to fostering dialogue across cultures, traditions, languages, and generations, and so it is received as a cherished and momentous addition to the literary landscape.
Readers will expect to see award-winners and favorites. They’re easily found within the volume’s pages, including many of the most significant poets of our time: Robert Bly, Carl Phillips, Tess Gallagher, Mark Doty, Christopher Gilbert, William Stafford, Linda Gregg, Jane Kenyon, and James L. White. There’s also a lot of what writers like to see: poems by emerging writers among the more established, foundational poets who’ve graced Graywolf’s shelves for many years.
Every single poem in the anthology is, of course, exemplary. Culled from 50 years of Graywolf Press’ hundreds of volumes, each poem is accompanied by a short essay written by another Graywolf poet. If we’re going with a lupine theme, the essays are the fat in the meat, enhancing each poem’s flavor with a marbling of inquiry and elucidation.
As an anthology, it will appeal to readers within literary circles—poets who read other poets. Raised by Wolves is also perfectly suited for a more expansive habitat. As Graywolf’s director and publisher Carmen Giménez writes in the book’s introduction, “Publishing significant and influential volumes of poetry that span a range of styles and visions remains at the heart of [our] mission.” Poetry and poetic voice have no defined territory as is evident in the more than 400 books written by hundreds of poets published by Graywolf since 1974.
In Natalie Diaz’s essay response to Mary Szybist’s “The Troubadours, Etc.” she describes the work of a poet as not unlike the work of troubadours, an observation that seems apropos to the entire collection:
“It is a durational labor, looking closely, intentionally and attentively, until what we knew becomes unknown, and we become curious again, afraid again, and therefore sensually alert and capable of relearning the world with self-tenderness and in consequence to one another.”
Raised by Wolves, as a consequence, is the effect of a particular action to foster the artistry of voices drawn from a global community of writers. Reading it, we may begin to detect the howling of a pack of troubadours, singing through the pages as Giménez describes it, “through global crises, police and state violence, inequities, atrocities at the border, Native dispossession, mental illness, military aggression, disability justice, poverty and many more of the most pressing issues of our time.”
We’ve had ten U.S. presidents since the press’s inception. The first Graywolf titles emerged at the end of the Vietnam War. It is staggering to consider the trajectory of the poems in Raised by Wolves. For decades, poets—the most sensitive, attentive, socially minded creatures—have listened and watched, even hunted for meaning and purpose. Graywolf has grown a stealthy pack. If you are reading this book you, too, have been raised by wolves.