Distinguished by expert attention to image and phrase, line and sentence, rhythm and tone, George Witte's An Abundance of Caution proves much more than a showcase of virtuoso technique. Witte's formal skill lends voice and body to the crucial work of finding grace in a time marked by environmental crisis, global pandemic, and personal loss. His poems gain their depth and dimension from attentiveness to the lives of others, the details of the natural world, and the often-bewildering ways we live now. In lines both formal and free, these poems answer uncertainty with clarity, imagination, and compassion. An Abundance of Caution is George Witte's fourth collection of poems.
George Witte is the author of the poetry collections, The Apparitioners, Deniability, and Does She Have a Name? Additionally, his work has been published widely in journals and included in The Best American Poetry, Old Flame, Rabbit Ears, The Doll Collection, and two Poets of the Palisades anthologies. He received Poetry magazine's Frederick Bock prize, as well as a fellowship from the New Jersey Council for the Arts/Department of State. The editor in chief of St. Martin's Press, Witte lives with his family in Ridgewood, New Jersey.
"An Abundance of Caution is a polyphonic symphony. Moments of meditative observation are followed seamlessly by catharsis while simultaneously drawing readers into a vortex that sometimes forces them to face their own most unsettling instincts. From the observation that during pandemic lockdown Rush hour ends without a toll of corpses, to the deceptive serenity of a deadly tailing pond, to the cyclical nature of our complacency versus climate change and mass extinction, to a harrowingly surreal conclusion of a poem about a slow day of fishing, this book will challenge, unsettle, and expand its audience's world. I found myself each day looking forward to what new revelations these finely crafted gems of poems would offer up. This is a collection for the ages, one I will keep coming back to again and again." - Anton Yakolev
"Composed during the pandemic, George Witte's latest poems emerge from those lean years keenly aware of the world's frailties and of our own. Threats we have weathered have left their marks: Infection. Hemorrhage. // Heart fibrillating on the windowsill: / systole absent diastole. // Cool shadow cast, withdrawn. / A sense of something immanent but gone. Realist, elegiac, and deftly musical, An Abundance of Caution takes stock of America now, from the vantage point of Witte's native Garden State. His are often hard truths, but like the songbirds in The Boathouse Swallows, which elude the owner's defenses, Witte's poems find their way in, taking up residence in the mind and heart." - David Yezzi
"The poems in George Witte's new book offer intelligent, well-crafted dispatches from a world in which we've learned to live with an abundance of caution because of Covid, climate change, environmental devastation, and other calamities. The poems, however, balance elegiac despair with hope for a better future. They remind us that, despite the fact that storefront pastors blare apocalypse, and despite the fear that humans might exterminate / creation, we can still enjoy mysterious moments of grace." - Henry Hart
"The carefully crafted poems in George Witte's An Abundance of Caution are always alert to the subtleties and possibilities of language. Images spring to life, as when plastic bags caught in winter trees like thought balloons recall / so many empty hands and what they held. A home newly on the market is a ghost ship uncaptained by disease, suffering slow mutinies of stuff, / Ash-pocked couch, bottom-broken chair / compressed by bridge and cocktail Saturdays. Witte offers an unflinching glimpse at personal and global degeneration, the undiagnosed collapse, the summer the hottest since, more arid than, the worst. It is through these harrowing moments—including a poem titled The Harrower—that Witte surprises and startles, so that we might learn astonishment / again." - Ernest Hilbert
"Each poem in this book is to be savored for its deft skillfulness, and almost every phrase has surprises that require mental adjustments. It is a pleasure, a challenge, and a reward to immerse oneself in these highly imaginative poems, each with a strong moral core binding it unbreakably. Witte may perhaps be a poet's poet still, but there is no reason why he shouldn't have a vast audience." - Anis Shivani
"Witte surveys our apocalyptic times in this poetry collection. The title of this collection became a kind of slogan during the Covid pandemic. Simultaneously evoking the variable danger of the virus and the uncertain institutional response to it, the newly ubiquitous phrase heralded a suspension of normal life, explaining why we must no longer go near one another. There's a historian's resignation to it all, a sense that the last man is scribbling down the final observations about a civilization on the brink of collapse: Above damp sand trash whirls like restless souls. / Warm humid afterbreath floods ventricles / with suffocating ease. I think we're done. An era-encapsulating collection of stylish, deftly composed poems." - Kirkus Reviews