Unholy Heart


Unholy Heart

New and Selected Poems

Grace Bauer

192 pages


March 2021


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2021


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2021


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Nebraska Book Award, Poetry Honor

Unholy Heart includes generous selections from each of Grace Bauer’s previous books of poetry, plus a sampling of new poems. Bauer has long been known for the wide range of both her subject matter and poetic styles, from the biblical persona poems of The Women at the Well, to the explorations of visual art in Beholding Eye, to the intersections of personal history and pop culture in Retreats and Recognitions and Nowhere All At Once, and to the postmodern fragmentations in MEAN/TIME. Along with these selections, Bauer incorporates her most elegiac work yet.

Author Bio

Grace Bauer is the Aaron Douglas Emeritus Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She is the award-winning author of numerous books of poetry, including MEAN/TIME, The Women At the Well, Nowhere All at Once, Retreats and Recognitions, and Beholding Eye.



“Grace Bauer is a first-rate narrative metaphysician, telling stories as ideas and ideas as stories. . . . A keen inventiveness lights up every poem in this new and selected collection, in which the beautifully, uniquely observed detail exists not for its own sake but as one more clue leading us toward unsettling discoveries.”—Dorothy Barresi, author of What We Did While We Made More Guns

Unholy Heart offers us a record of a poet, steadily, and with craft, deep reflection, wit, sensuality, and honesty—building a case for the dismantling of patriarchy through the challenge of persistent myths that undergird American culture, from the Bible to popular culture to art history to various mythologies of ancient and present mintage. With masterful use of ekphrastic poetry, persona poems, narrative poems, formal poems, and free verse, Grace Bauer’s body of work, presented beautifully and generously in this volume, is a welcome and important addition to the poetry of the Midwest, and to the poetry of America.”—Kwame Dawes, author of Nebraska: Poems

“In Unholy Heart we witness the unfolding of a life, a voice, and a spirit, often as the speaker inhabits other voices, from the biblical Marys to Marilyn Monroe, via iconic visual artists and their art, and via a range of landscapes, of homes seen anew. ‘What I once called home / today seems strange,’ Bauer writes as the biblical Ruth, and it is that perception and re-perception, and an intensifying openness to mystery and interior journeying, that characterizes this collection.”—Diane Seuss, author of Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl

Table of Contents


From The Women at the Well
Eve Recollecting the Garden    
Noah’s Wife Addresses the Department of the Interior    
Lot’s Daughters Bent on Revenge    
Ruth: On Wandering. On Wonder.    
Judith Dreaming of Her General    
Mary Recalling Bethlehem    
Anne: On the Darkness in Daughters    
Salome: The Choreography of Guilt    
The Prodigal Daughter’s Girl    
Pilate’s Wife Welcoming Nightmare    
Martha to Mary: The Quotidian Demands of the Flesh    
Mary to Martha: The Theological Insignificance of Dust    
Mary Magdalene’s Chapter and Verse    
Mary: A Confession and Complaint    
The Women at the Well    
From Retreats & Recognitions
Note from the Imaginary Daughter    
Norma Jean Dreams a Blonde Finale    
A Little Like Dorothy    
Modern Clothing    
Theadosia Comes to the New World    
Plot Lines    
Fat Tuesday    
Second Lining at My Own Jazz Funeral    
Latter Day Saints    
Extreme Unction    
Midlife Heavy Metal    
On Finding a Footnote to Truckin’    
Broke Down Palace    
Geography Lessons    

From Beholding Eye
Portraits of the Rich    
Large Bathers    
Mrs. Eakins’s Final Touches    
Frida Digresses on Red    
Room in New York    
Georgia, at Ninety, Learns to Make a Vessel    
The Eye of the Beholder    
Descending Nude    
Rrose Sélavy No Longer Sings La Vie en Rose    
Marcel Meets Georgia at 291    
Where You’ve Seen Her    
Her Search for Great Causes    
Her Great Escape    
For Her Villain    
She Has Days    

From Nowhere All At Once
Nowhere All At Once    
Great Plains Prayer    
Against Lawn    
The Bat    
Gray Ghazal    
Our Waitress’s Marvelous Legs    
The Persistent Popularity of Angels    
Two for The Bard and Bob Wood    
Unrepentant Prayer    
Off the Map    
Still Life in Red    
Against Prayer    
Corson’s Inlet    

A Riff on the Glyph(s)     
“Books Become Windows”     
Still Life as Oxymoron    
The Wandering Dream    
Against Proof    
Sad September Song    
Means of Transport    
Dusting the Angel    

New Poems
Terminal Grief    
Provisions for the Journey    
Father, Faltering    
Unspeakable Elegy    
Mother, May I    
Terminal Beauty    
All My Dead Say Grace    
Highway 2 Mirage    
Not Quite Nirvana    
Update on Emily    


Nebraska Book Award, Poetry Honor

Also of Interest