Notes from the Journey Westward
Notes from the Journey Westward is a book that interrogates the idea of America—especially our westering, both historical and contemporary, our rough, rocky journeys through the vast interiors of the continent and of our own hearts. In this wild, wide-open, god-forgotten country blind grandmothers take us by the hand, and lost fathers hide in every prairie shadow, and old devils hunch and watch from craggy peaks. We are orphaned here, all of us, and so must reckon with the very foundations of us, with the myths and stories that make and remake us as people and as a nation.
White Pine Press
American poetry -- 21st century
White Pine Press poetry prize, no. 17
“Moving through this book is, truly, a wondrous journey: across rugged landscapes and the vast unsettled past that WAS the west. "A hard world away." With a ferociously steely eye and equally ferociously tender heart, Wilkins surprises us at every juncture. Echoes of ancestral voices crisscross. Quiet intimate moments intersect with large socio-political issues. Spare poems, long poems, prose poems—I so admire the depth and breadth of work here, in how much Wilkins manages to pack in and carry along in our ever-onwarding little wagon.” —Nance Van Winckel
“Joe Wilkins’ poems are savage and beautiful, full of hard-won lives and a godawful tenderness. In one poem the speaker says they need a myth to tell them “Be alive”, but Wilkins has written that myth, and it is called Notes from a Journey Westward. In this book Manifest Destiny is more than political rhetoric—it’s a call to find the limits of survival. The edge of America has more than an ocean. It has dust-stunned men, hardscrabble women, and a patient devil, sharpening his teeth. We’re in this world whether it belongs to God or not—alive and bearing it.” —Traci Brimhall
“For Joe Wilkins, the American West is no theme park or romantic diorama. Notes from the Journey Westward offers an earnest glimpse into past and present landscapes that are real and imagined, mourned and celebrated and witnessed—for these, to borrow the words of Nazim Hikmet, are human landscapes. Wilkins isn’t the kind of poet to offer answers or satisfy himself with quaint definitions of self or place. He’s the kind of poet whose writing is as ambitious as it is beautiful, as honest as it is lyrical. The unflinching poems in this collection are a delight.” - Michael McGriff
Wilkins, Joe, "Notes from the Journey Westward" (2012). Linfield Authors Book Gallery. 45.