William Baer is the author of six collections of poems, a book of translations from the Portuguese, a poetry textbook, and (as editor) two poetry anthologies.  His poems have been published in over two hundred literary journals, including Ploughshares, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, The Hudson Review, The American Scholar, and The Virginia Quarterly Review.  The founding editor of The Formalist, he’s also served as the poetry editor at Crisis Magazine, the faculty director of The Evansville Review, and a contributing editor at Measure.  He is also the founding director of the Richard Wilbur Poetry Series, the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Competition, and the Willis Barnstone Translation Award.

Poetry Books

The Unfortunates

The Unfortunates (Truman State University Press)

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Recipient of the T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize

“My favorite of Bill Baer’s poetic portraits is the pair of lovers who climb over the airport fence to lie in a ditch by an active runway, but there is also the unregenerate cultist, a roller-coaster addict, a housebreaker, a baby snatcher, and many others to choose from.  This is a highly original first book.”  – Maxine Kumin

“The subjects of this astonishing portrait gallery of poems are profoundly unnerving, alarming, haunting, touching and distressing.  This is one of the most deeply unsettling books of poetry I have read in a very long time.  The dramas of these portraits are all the more powerful and disturbing by virtue of the quiet, understated terms in which they are composed.” – Anthony Hecht


Borges and Other Sonnets

Borges & Other Sonnets

“Borges” and Other Sonnets (Truman State University Press)

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‘Borges’ and Other Sonnets contains fifty-five sonnets of striking episodic force that are urgent, amusing, instructive, and moving.  This book will come to be identified as one of the spearhead books of the new literary movement being fostered by the American sonnet.” – Felix Stefanile

“William Baer’s new poetry collection is the most significant book of sonnets since Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Fatal Interview more than seventy years ago.” – Samuel Maio


The Ballad Rode Into Town cover

The Ballad Rode into Town (Turning Point Press)

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“I don’t know any other poet but William Baer better equipped to restore the ballad to popularity.  The Ballad Rode into Town will captivate people who ordinarily don’t like poetry as well as people who do.  Baer often informs contemporary settings with language and devices straight out of English and Scottish popular ballads.  Like those great medieval forerunners, he gives us passion, sudden death, and melodrama in infectious rhymed stanzas, surprising us with plot twists and horrific outrage.  It’s a wonderful book, one for both gobbling down and cherishing.” – X. J. Kennedy


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“Bocage” and Other Sonnets (Texas Review Press)

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Recipient of the X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize

“Imagine the perfect short story, the way it transports you into a different natural and social world, the way its characters grip you with their stress and their alien yet familiar minds and feelings, the way its plot twists and crackles.  Then imagine that all of that freshness and strangeness and force is condensed into fourteen lines, preserving the essence of the voice, the brilliance of significant sensory detail, and the vigor of dramatic address.  And then imagine that it is presented in an ancient and severely beautiful poetic form, but then cracked open so that it is utterly contemporary and idiomatic.  Now multiply this experience by fifty-five, the number of sonnets in Baer’s book – and drench the whole with the brusque romance of ‘Portuguese Petrarchanism’ – and you have some hint of the pleasure of its reader. – Frederick Turner



Psalter (Truman State University Press)

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“These remarkable well-turned religious sonnets by William Baer are both faithful and fresh.  They re-tell the old stories with an easy and lucid eloquence, often from surprising points of view, and always with a keen understanding.” – Richard Wilbur

“The ‘hermeneutic of continuity” by which Pope Benedict wishes to promote an uninterrupted tradition of excellence, should not be limited to the Liturgy.  It applies to all scholarship and art, including hymnody, metaphysical poetry, and spiritual writing.  The poetry of William Baer is a distinguished example of this continuity and a model of how it should be done.” – Fr. George Rutler


Love Sonnets Cover CroppedLove Sonnets (Kelsay Press)

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In his delightful Love Sonnets, William Baer has gathered what we know about “the tender passion” and conveyed it in all its guises.  The innocence of its early days; the fire of sex and the disappointment of its cooling; the pain of its betrayal and the sweetness of its patient endurance; the incurable grief of its permanent loss and the fantasies that may outlive it . . . all and more are to be found in these sonnets, whose form, tone and diction shift with the voices of a variety of persuasive speakers.  Like Lucretius in the fourth chapter of his masterpiece, On the Nature of Things, Baer moves from vivid description to humor (often dark), to despairing honesty, and finally to praise of this most universal human experience.  This is a book to feel with, chuckle over, think through, and reread with pleasure!  – Rhina P. Espaillat



Luis de Camoes

Luís de Camões: Selected Sonnets (University of Chicago Press)

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“William Baer’s brilliant translation of Luís de Camões’s Selected Sonnets is a literary achievement and one that will bring renewed interest to these classic texts.  Students and all lovers of poetry will find it extremely valuable.” – Virgil Suárez

“Long overshadowed by the poet’s great epic, Camões’s sonnets emerge here in splendid isolation to reveal their greatness.  Baer’s translations superbly capture their deepest pride, passion, pathos, and dynamic energy.” – William J. Kennedy



Writing Metrical Poetry

Writing Metrical Poetry (Measure Press)

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“Writing Metrical Poetry is the perfect introduction to the pleasure of measure. Through informative discussions and excellent exercises, each successive chapter builds one’s knowledge of how to write exciting formal verse. The book is smart, clear, and well-structured, and it’s the only book I ever use to teach metrical poetry.”  – Tony Barnstone

“At once a handbook of forms, a poetry writing text, an anthology, and a succinct history of English verse, William Baer’s clear and elegantly-conceived Writing Metrical Poetry is a rich resource for all teachers and students of poetry, indeed for all practitioners of the art, both in and out of the academy.” – Rachel Hadas



Contemporary Sonnets

Sonnets: 150 Contemporary Sonnets (an anthology) (University of Evansville Press)

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“wonderful” – Catherine Tufariello
“a marvel” – Felix Stefanile
“smashing” – Jared Carter
“splendid” – Rachel Hadas
“terrific” – Kate Light
“sterling” – X. J. Kennedy
“superb” – Rhina P. Espaillat
“perfect” – Samuel Maio


Rhyming Poems: A Contemporary Anthology

Rhyming Poems: A Contemporary Anthology (University of Evansville Press)

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Rhyming Poems: A Contemporary Anthology is a unique collection of 100 contemporary poems that showcase the marvelous variety, power, and pleasure of rhyme.  It includes poetry by a wide range of poets, including three Nobelists, ten recipients of the Pulitzer Prize, and numerous younger voices.



Poet Interviews

Conversations with Derek Walcott

Conversations with Derek Walcott (University Press of Mississippi)

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When Derek Walcott was awarded the Nobel Prize, he was cited for “a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment.”  The lively interviews in this collection edited by William Baer reveal Walcott’s generous and brilliant intelligence as well as his strong, forthright opinions. He discusses the craft of poetry, the status of contemporary poetry and drama, his founding of the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, and his views on a number of influential writers, including Eliot, Auden, Brodsky, Heaney, and Naipaul.  Whatever the subject, Walcott responds fully and candidly.


Fourteen on Form

Fourteen on Form: Conversations with Poets (University Press of Mississippi)

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Fourteen on Form: Conversations with Poets is a collection of candid, in-depth interviews with some of the most influential poets of recent times: Willis Barnstone, Robert Conquest, Wendy Cope, Douglas Dunn, Anthony Hecht, John Hollander, Donald Justice, X. J. Kennedy, Maxine Kumin, Frederick Morgan, John Frederick Nims, W. D. Snodgrass, Derek Walcott, and Richard Wilbur.


Thirteen On Form CoverThirteen on Form: Conversations with Poets (Measure Press)

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Thirteen on Form: Conversations with Poets is a collection of interviews with many of the most significant poetic voices of the formalist revival known as the New Formalism: Wyatt Prunty, Dana Gioia, Timothy Steele, Rachel Hadas, Brad Leithauser, Charles Martin, R. S. Gwynn, Frederick Turner, Mary Jo Salter, David Middleton, Dick Davis, Rhina P. Espaillat, and A. E. Stallings.