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Syndic Literary Journal

Syndic Library Narrations ~ Bill Wolak Bio-Reviews

Bio & Reviews ~ Poet Bill Wolak

Bill Wolak is a poet, photographer, and collage artist, who and has just published his eighteenth book of poetry entitled All the Wind’s Unfinished Kisses with Ekstasis Editions. Mr. Wolak has been awarded several National Endowment for the Humanities scholarships and two Fulbright-Hays scholarships to study and travel in India. In 2007, he was selected to participate in a Friendship Delegation to Iran sponsored by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, America’s largest and oldest interfaith peace and justice organization. He was selected to be a featured poet at festivals in India five times: at the 2011 Kritya International Poetry Festival in Nagpur, at the 2013 Hyderabad Literary Festival, at the Tarjuma 2013: Festival of Translators in Ahmedabad, at the 2014 Hyderabad Literary Festival, and at the 2017 Goa Arts and Literary Festival. Recently, he was a featured poet at The Mihai Eminescu International Poetry Festival in Craiova, Romania; The Pesaro International Poetry Festival, Pesaro, Italy; The Xichang-Qionghai Silk Road International Poetry Week, Xichang, China; The Ethnofest, Pristina, Kosovo; the Chengdu International Poetry Week, Chengdu, China; and the International Poetic Conference, Poznan, Poland. His collages and photographs have appeared recently in the 2020 International Festival of Erotic Arts (Chile), the 2020 Seattle Erotic Art Festival, the 2020 Dirty Show in Detroit, the 2021 Rochester Erotic Arts Festival, the 2018 Montreal Erotic Art Festival, and Naked in New Hope 2018.

Reviews About Bill Wolak

In Various Languages

     The poetry of love is often sullied by the many voices speaking fatally of common places and inaccessible repetitions, but fortunately Bill Wolak is far from the hack-like imitators we often find and shows us immediately his authentic voice, his human steps, and the heat which he assigns to the shivering words of real-life experience . . . In this, we can see that Wolak has learned much from the study of Classical literature and even the Beat generation, but he has not been affected by any literary obsession or trend, and that is what makes his work more comprehensive and gives it an even wider appeal.

                                                                                                                         —Dante Maffia              

 

Like a painter exploring every tone of a single hue patiently and like a singer endeavoring variations of a note in constant motion, Wolak explores the body with words.  Reading these poems one realizes that without language it would have been impossible to perceive beauty.  Who would have believed that fragile flesh had so much of eternity within!

                                                                                                                          —Dileep Jhaveri

 

 

Bill Wolak is a kind of anthropologist of poetry, bursting with energy, always starry-eyed about the mystery of existence and firmly grounded in what is vitally significant in this life journey, physically, emotionally, intellectually. Fortunately, partly as a result of his explorations, he has the unique talent of being able to get inside the Other, to transform it and make it his own in a virtual panoply of word and sound images that cannot help but so inform and excite the reader/listener to a recall of his or her own similar experiences but reborn through the filter of Wolak’s selective creative process. He is also a genuine human being, a loyal family man, and friend. One would have to look long and hard to find such a combination in one man.

                                                                                                                       —Stanley H. Barkan

 

 

Wolak’s magic & word power have destroyed the last vestiges of puritanism on earth.              

                                                                                                                        —Gabriel Rosenstock

 

 

 

Bill Wolak has given us a cornucopia of sexual delights, some sweet, others mouth-watering, and many more that titillate our veiled fantasies. His poems are finely tuned expressions of urgency and desire. They explore the body with expectation on the brink of pleasure.

                                                                                                                               —John Digby

                                                               *******

 

Foreword by Ion Deaconescu to That Wild Laughter Beyond Despair by Bill Wolak translated into Romanian by Olimpia Iacob (Foreword below translated into English by Veronica Lungu)

The Poetry and Ontology of the Body

Paul Valéry was attributing to poetry the profound, fertile, and curious attribution of being, not a few times, an ontology of the body, in a text which is producing emotions, which allows the utmost conceptualization and verbalization.

About an ontology of the body of this type, of the body of the beloved woman, we can discuss when speaking about William Wolak’s poetry, or, even better, about a poetics of the body, seen in various hypostases, with your own existential feelings.

The pleading of the poet for the timeless, almost transparent image of the woman, of her body imagined as something mysterious and exciting, imposes a special meditation, especially an interior, almost abnormal bewilderment. Because the „spirit of the one close to you” must be bewildered, stirring it up until its deepest entrails and fulfilling this way the duty of being merciful, waking up the one who is asleep when a danger is coming or when the privilege of enchanting our eyes with something beautiful is arising. We must trouble the spirits and to inoculate in them strong desires, even if we will never get to see those wishes fulfilled…There is a profound silence of the depths of our souls and it is obtained only by snatching ourselves from the illusory silence of our domestic life”, was writing, someday, Miguel de Unamuno.

Differently said, when facing the woman beauty, the self tries to get out of himself, trembled by the rustling-like body, as a hot, incandescent, thrilling plasma which is flooding everything. It is, after all, a different type of language, obtained by reducing all the logical notions to simple sensorial functions, to the simple pulse of the fingers, to the primary eyes seeing, because with Wolak the love was turned into a theology of the glance, aimed towards the emotional center of life, the image of the poet deriving from this point, which is focalizing feelings and mysteries. The poet is deifying the body of the woman, considering it in a protecting harmony with the entire universe, because the beloved one is bringing you near to the mystery of the universal being, as the metaphor of the body is synonymous with the metaphor of light and of revelation, whereas, without love there is nothing left, not even yourself.

As Charles Peguy, Wolak is rewriting the feelings of his body as a supreme form of life, when the saving from death is taking place, the jubilation of spirit being obtained through the passion of the senses and profound feelings. If Vasile Voiculescu is looking at the body of the woman with purity and spiritual candor, Tudor Arghezi is mixing the worldly with the sacred in the game of identification through desire and passion, while at Wolak the love for woman shows up like a dogma or a ritual, like a construction and a celebration of ”us,” saved from degeneration, a timeless proof of love in universal, in a timeless space.

The American poet sees love as a praying into nothingness, while also being the antidote for the loss, but something still remains unspoken and perceived, because love is making the person who is loving sensitive to the utmost, and to say everything it’s like showing others the body of the beloved one, denuding her in front of everyone.

Without using metaphors with any price, or some pompous thought and feelings, Wolak’s poetical text is simple, but profound, with a generous internal tension, which is generating interrogative emotions and meditations, proceeding from an intense combustion of the feelings, from the suffering of knowing the laws of the universe and of the depths of the human being, being aware that the treasury of a language is beneath the meaning, and that understanding is not an ending, but a mean of perceiving the beauty and the the vital pulse of the soul in love, or, as M. Jacob was saying “l’intelligence poetique est une pleuresie,” and is seen only at the greatest poets of the world, as a seal for absolute originality.

Regarding the translation of Wolak’s poetry into Romanian by Olimpia Iacob, it is in the same time a song and a scream, almost a lyrical miracle.

                                                                                                                  —Ion Deaconescu

                                                               *******

We have been meeting him at poetry festivals around the world for many years. With a brand new camera and a tall stature that stands out from all of us, it is always in sight. Unlike many European poets who cannot even read a poem on paper, he is distinguished by his different way of reading poetry from the stands. He doesn’t even forget to add humor to his speech so that he can buy more. All of us, both older and younger, call him “Bill”, but he is not aware of such calls, and his camera shines from one corner or the other. The participants of the festival do their work in salons, museums, on buses. But later, these photos become a chronicle of poetry festivals, and it would not be wrong to say that Bill is the author of the unique photos I used to publish in Turkey, Azerbaijan or anywhere else in the world. The reader should not think that now I will talk about the photos of this talented photographer. No, it is not. Photography is his youthful hobby and continues to be so. In fact, Bill is a very talented poet in the full sense of the word. It would not be wrong to have an effect. The photographer’s machine in his short, meaningful poems It is not difficult to feel the flashes of light. Bill Wolak lives in New Jersey, USA and teaches poetry at William Paterson University. The fifteenth book of poems The Nakedness Defense  has just been published. His poems have been published in more than a hundred magazines around the world.He translated many of the world’s leading poets into English. He will take part in poetry festivals in Italy, China, Japan, India, Iran and other countries, and has been awarded many literary prizes around the world. In 2019, the situation in Graiova, Romania, Mihai Emunecu was awarded a special diploma for leading poets of the poetry festival. I also wanted to introduce my readers to the poems of my friend Bill Wolak, one of the world’s most famous poets.

                                                                                                                —Mehmet Ismail

 

                                                               *******                                               

Foreword by Chryssa Nikolaki to The Seepage of Dreams Translated into Greek by Manolis (Emmanuel Aligizakis)

 From the title of the book alone, one can begin to get an inkling of just how inextricably linked eros and death are in the poet’s thinking. Seepage suggests loss, fading, dwindling, and diminution, while dreaming is usually connected with some aspect of desire. This linkage reminds me of something the famous Greek poet Yiannis Ritsos said: “I know that everyone marches to love alone / alone to glory and to death.” Bill Wolak focuses on these key gates of the human existence where opposites find their harmonious union. We find this sense of unity in the collection Seepage of Dreams. Such a flow of discussion and engaging concepts which, according to Socrates, is extremely difficult to achieve, are attempted by many of the poems in this book. Moreover, it is the sign of the poet’s talent and dedication that his imagery attempts to combine longing and death in such lyrical utterances.

 

                 The historic poems in the book, on the other hand, offer a different form of intriguing interaction between the poet and his readers. Readers have to delve into the symbolism of poetry that uses text and memory as didactic tools. For example, we find in poems like “The Statue of Anacreon” a distancing device absent from the more personal love poems.  In this poem, the statue invokes the youth of the Bacchic Anacreon, the lover of drunkenness, the poet of symposiums who always praised wine drinking and eros. However, now the person has aged, and is different from the youthful body of bygone days, presenting a body that’s “calm, reserved, and even thoughtful, signifying the maturity and self-respect that has been achieved, the Socratic know thyself, the achievement of man who has reached his enlightenment and life’s purpose, who has, in fact, reached his eudemonia, as Aristotle put it: the word etymologically refers to the “good demonwhich protects humans. Aristotle defined the term eudemonia as the happy state in which energy of the soul is directly related to virtue and is considered a continuous activity that leads man to his ultimate goal to his most important achievement: self-knowledge. Wolak’s poems are always a quest for some kind of epiphany, some of which are whispered, others shouted.

 

                 Particularly interesting are the collection’s erotic poems. In the poem “The Lover’s Body,” diffused eroticism runs beyond the flesh and touches the state of ideas, delivers the unexpected, the dreamy, what Kazantzakis defines as the ideal: “When we believe passionately in something inexistent, we create it; when something never took place, it’s because we didn’t wish it strongly enough.” Obviously, that is the case in these lines which serve as a kind of prayer:

            

                            May your fingers

                              touch the unexpected

                             always with the thrill

                              of loving

 

In these erotic poems, repetition is employed as a tool to create emphasis in the power of eros for the reader who’s lead to his or her own erotic galaxy, where nature, man, and woman become one. The naked body is the landscape where most of Wolak’s poems are situated:

 

                         indiscriminate kisses down your stomach and up your thighs,

                         kisses like a bouquet of roses sweeping over tempting nakedness

 

The earthly element is progressively joining the idealized body, the transient, fleeting sensations harmonizing and coalescing into the dream. The poet, fully influenced by the ancient Greek ideal, places embodiment at the center of the universe and also Eros, the mastermind of emotions, the archaic root of  all life.

 

                 In his poetry, Wolak returns over and over again to the theme of love to express his most startling revelations. As Aristarchus of Samos said, “Anyone who has not met love knows only the law of need. However, the concept of pain is also developed in these poems along with eros. One is reminded of Ibsen’s statement that “The search for happiness in this life is the true meaning of rebellion.Longing for eros means you must inevitably deal with pain: “You believe your numbness / is the end of the story. / But it’s only a symptom /of the body suffering withdrawal.” You begin to believe that numbness after intimacy is the conclusion, but it is only the body tyrannized by the sense of absence and loss. Fear leads to frustration, but ultimately, it is the kiss of the beloved that renews hope:

 

                                  I want to explore your entire body with kisses,

                                  kisses thirsty as light, kisses that open the wind.

 

                                   —Chryssa Nikolaki, literary critic, poet, author, theologian

                                   Athens, Greece, 2020

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF BILL WOLAK

 

Original Poetry

 

Pale as an Explosion (1977)
Archeology of Light (2011)
Warming the Mirror (2012)
When Dreaming Birds Sing (2012)
The Strength of the Spider’s Web Decides (2012)
Whatever Nakedness Allows (2013)
Perfume in a Sandstorm (2013)
The Art of Invisibility (2013)
The Statue of Lightning (2013)
The Lover’s Body (2014)
Singing Their Lovers Naked (2014)
Confusing the Gods (2015)
Love Opens the Hands: New & Selected Love Poems (2015)

Snowflakes Blown Into a Keyhole (2015)

The Nakedness Defense (2016)
The Rain That Makes Ashes Dance (2017)

A Whisper Trapped in Perfume (2018)

All the Wind’s Unfinished Kisses (2019)

Daylight’s Encryption of Dreams (2021)

 

Original Poetry & Translations with Mahmood Karimi Hakak

 

Your Lover’s Beloved: 51 Ghazals by Hafez (2009)
Love Emergencies (2010)
Love Me More Than the Others: Selected Poems of Iraj Mirza (2014)

 

Translations into Other Languages

 

 In the Silence Between Love Songs / In der Stille zwischen Liebesliedern,

        German translation by Silvia Kofler (2015)

Deep into the Erasures of Night / Răsăturile nopții,

        Romanian translation by Olimpia Iacob (2015)

In the Hall of Lost Footsteps / Ĭn sala pașilor pierduți with Daniel Corbu,

        Romanian translation by Olimpia Iacob (2016)

Wind-seeking Seeds / Semițe căutătoare de vânt with Ioan Nistor,

        Romanian translation by Olimpia Iacob (2016)

Let’s Not Sleep Tonight / Questa notte non dormiamo,

        Italian translation by Laura Corraducci (2016)

 

The Winds Despair / Vetmia e erës,

        Albanian translation by Jeton Kelmendi (2016)

Duet of Fireflies with Maki Starfield

        Japanese translation 蛍の二重奏  by Maki Starfield, (2018)

        Spanish translation Dueto De Luciérnagas by Ramon Espinel (2018)

        Portuguese translation Dueto de Vaga-lumes by Victoria Regina Borges Tavares Melo                                   

        (2019)

Become a River

        Chinese translation by Yin Xiaoyuan (2018)

That Wild Laughter Beyond Despair / Râsul acela sălbatec de dincolo de disperare

         Romanian translation by Olimpia Iacob (2019)

The Homelessness of Water  / Niczym nieskrępowana woda

          Polish translation by Tomasz Marek Sobieraj & Jacek Świerk (2019)

The Seepage of Dreams / Ροή Ονείρων

            Greek translation by Manolis (Emmanuel Aligizakis) (2020)
Only Darkness Uses Wind as a Mirror / Doar întunericul face vântul oglindă  with Ioan Milea

            Romanian translation by Olimpia Iacob (2020)

It’s Dangerous Not To Love / Nem szeretni veszélyes

            Hungarian translation by Attila Balazs (2020)

Lipstick Acropolis / Acrópole de Batom (2020)

            Portuguese translation by Carlos Ramos

 

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