david hadbawnik holy sonnets

Holy Sonnets to Orpheus and Other Poems

David Hadbawnik

Humor & history with the sharpest of edges—David Hadbawnik's Holy Sonnets to Orpheus and Other Poems makes selvages where the languages of myth & the literary canon meet the languages of social media, sports, lovers’ abbreviations, & other contemporary vernaculars. “Batter-up to my heart.” Voyeurism & display, friendship & competition, love & jealousy, nature & the callous destruction thereofa voice is both the “wind snapping on / plastic bags caught / in winter branches” & “a small bird / [taking] flight making / the leaves shake.” These are equal choices, not a hierarchy of poetic possibilities rather, everything at once. I read “And then went down to the ship. Then / became Mens Rights Activists” & thought : yes, of course! Hadbawnik’s new book is a reading of how we might read now, right now, through history & in history. “Were all / godfucked anyway, some of us / just die sooner.” These poems are thorough. This book is a pleasure to read & also about the pleasures of reading through.  

Pattie McCarthy

There is no quick contact line between the sacred and profane, nor are the delicate threads of those outlooks frayed in David Hadbawnik’s poetic palimpsests, Holy Sonnets to Orpheus and Other Poems. The vocalic outreach to antiquity, a lyric channeling of the English Renaissance, and the exuberant undertones of Romance are performed in masquerades of contemporary utterances of the now. “And what am I?” asks the Orphic figure. “An ordinary nothing?” Personhood escapes to underworld self-erosion, and poetry returns in the levity of song’s enduring, transforming play. It is a history of the making of soulful artifice.

—Dale Smith

Holy Sonnets to Orpheus and Other Poems is 80 pages. Year 2018.


David Hadbawnik is a poet and translator whose Aeneid books 1-6 was published by Shearsman Books. He teaches writing and literature at American University of Kuwait, and works on issues in translation and vernacular poetry, mostly from the medieval and early modern periods. Other books include Field Work (Blazevox) and Ovid in Exile (Interbirth); he has also been a contributing editor of the journal postmedieval and edited Thomas Meyer’s Beowulf for punctum books and a portion of Jack Spicer’s Beowulf for CUNY’s Lost and Found Document Series.


Currently out of stock.