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Work Samples

Poetry - A Baker Miscellany

Thanks for wandering in. Set a spell. Take a load off. Lift a glass. Cheers! So what we have below ["View Full Document" link] is a smattering of poems culled from "The Song Thief," the entirety of which appears in the Projects Section. There might be two or three cute little numbers hanging in there that catch your eye. The color, the purposeful stitching. Something about the shoulders. If we’re lucky, the two of us, we’ll each get into the other's clothes. There’s little about empire or deconstruction in these pages. Plenty about love and death. Love and death – I should have written this in Russian. I should have been Nabokov. Then we’d both be lucky.

PDF icon Poetry - A Baker Miscellany

Famous - Cover Spread

About FAMOUS (Winner of the 2010 Harriss Poetry Prize): "A 'tour de force' . . . these poems are outstanding and moving, crafted in order to reward us with new senses of perspective – as only exceptional poetry can do. Just twice before, in the many times I’ve judged poetry contests, has a poet’s work stood out as strongly as Sager’s. One of those winners is now a major American poet.” (Dick Allen, Connecticut Poet Laureate) -- THE FULL TEXT APPEARS IN THE PROJECTS SECTION.

THE INDULGENCE OF ICARUS -- A timely arrival in this political season!

Poetry: THE INDULGENCE OF ICARUS -- Is the shadow gliding up against the sun that of Icarus, denuded of his feathers, or that of Danton, despoiled of his head? Is it the archetypal 20th century despot, a demagogue dictating to the masses, “beguiling the chambermaid, the tailor”. . . ? Or a radical 21st century bully, a con man strapping the casement of feathers to his shoulders, throwing his glove at the foot of the heavens “until we fire our torches foamed of dreams and fan out pitchforked into the innocent street”. . . ? -- THE FULL TEXT APPEARS IN THE PROJECTS SECTION.

200 Takes - A fiction in divers parts

Fiction: 200 TAKES -- Sometimes I sit down at my keyboard and Hoby Blue Banks takes over. Or, as in this case, Bradford Kantor. This voice, that voice, you never can tell. Sometimes I delight in vague and duplicitous attributions. As do so many. Sitting in this library, I am steeped in, if nothing else, deceptive literary traditions. -- THE FULL TEXT APPEARS IN THE PROJECTS SECTION.


About Bruce

Carroll County

Bruce Sager's picture
In the first person: I had the enormous good fortune to win the 2014 William Matthews Poetry Prize, selected by Billy Collins. Past awards include the Harriss Poetry Prize, with Dick Allen serving as judge and begetter of its splendid (though, I fear, unwarranted) introduction, and the Artscape Literary Arts Award in poetry, chosen by William Stafford, another generous soul. Collins, Allen, Stafford - poets laureate all; is this the basis for a new conspiracy theory? Maryland State Arts Council... more

Welcome to my world!

Not a project, exactly, my library, not a project in the narrow sense of the Baker Portfolios, but -- thirty-some years in the building -- a project indeed! And a bespoke introduction to the "real" projects that follow. Spread over two rooms and threatening a third, a confederation of sophists and sages in full regalia, casuists and scholars, a throng of savants, midnight soloists and timeless scribblers -- whispering, gibbering, howling from their shelves across the hours, across the seasons. And then, the silence. All in all, the perfect cradle for a grateful writer foraging through his meager nest of ideas. And a lovely place to light up a cigar, to sip a little wine. Come join me . . . .

  • The infamous Man Cave whence cometh these Baker scribblings

    ABOUT BOOKS & E-BOOKS: A brief, digestible essay in eight consecutive captions >>>
  • Library Corner.jpg

    Here's a notion for you. You cannot hold a road in your hand. Instead, you experience a road only as it comes at you, as you walk or drive it, and it presents you, in turn, only with what is directly in front of you, and nothing else; for what has fallen behind is gone, has disappeared, and what is ahead, what pre-exists, cannot be seen until you arrive. >>>
  • Some Furriners.jpg

    In this way, an e-book is something like a road, existing forever in "the present," the present only, on the present page and only the present -- and we don't need or make libraries for them: e-books make their own libraries in the clouds. In the Cloud. >>>
  • I Dream of Jeannie.jpg

    As for real books? Well, real books are quite different. Of course. They require space. So there, friend, is the heart of the notion: a real book makes past, present and future all equally accessible to you, and at all times, depending simply on where your fingers fall. The map is yours to command, the road yours to direct. >>>
  • From the Poetry Section.jpg

    It is you who rule the ideas in a tangible, a real, a physical book. In an e-book, though, they manage you. Have you noticed? In an e-book you live only in the rolling unmappable present, palpably adrift, with a limited concept of the space you superintend. >>>
  • Thomasiana.jpg

    It is, perhaps, for this reason -- our longing to anchor in the physical -- that libraries provide us with such warmth and pleasure. They provide us with a sense of place. >>>
  • Audenalia.jpg

    The road provides us with a sense of movement. >>>
  • Library Classics.jpg

    The library with a sense that we have arrived. <<<

Famous (Older Poems, Not Grown Awful Quite Yet)

Winner of the 2010 Harriss Poetry Prize, judged by Connecticut Poet Laureate Dick Allen. His incredibly generous introduction is better than my poems.

Hoby Blue Banks (Semi-Hilarious Short Stories)

HOBY BLUE BANKS IN EXACTLY 1,000 WORDS, MORE OR LESS -- because sometimes you just can't stand being yourself. A scurrilous volume of short stories, "as told to Bruce Sager, typist" . . . [by no less than Hoby himself!] . . . "who otherwise don't know shit, and who, on top of his other deficits & defects, of which there is no small number, wanted to call this thing 'Speak Easy,' I guess because of the lizard on the cover, which, to an artsy fartsy mind, might be a statement or some such about trusting what speech come tumbling out of a man's mouth when he gets to talking." Not for the faint of heart. Forthcoming in 2017  from Hyperborea Publishing.

How to Write a Poem (Are You A Writer? Bet You'll Laugh.)

A practical instruction. Well, no. Not  really.
But a “must read” for any poet.
Depending on your definition of “must.”

     And look how hard you’ve been
     working. Does the laborer not pause
     under the midday sun for a sip of water?
     The soldier beguile the hours of bivouac
     rolling coffin nails? Who are you
     to deny yourself the common comforts
     the body demands? And besides,
     maybe you have your poem already.
Do you recognize yourself here?
     Here’s where the might and majesty
     of the language will step in, married
     in the near night under your little
     gooseneck writer’s lamp. Or maybe
     not. Maybe the might and majesty
     of the language are currently in
     the employ of some other poet,
     likewise desperate to turn a bright sheet
     of foolscap into something deathless
     and deep, and despair begins to set in.
Turn your back to it, sugar booger.

The Indulgence of Icarus (An Atypical Lyric)

It started out as a lyrical -- yes, lyrical! -- poem about the fascist mind. (Have I lost you yet? I don't think I'd get past that first sentence, personally.) Anyway, as this recent presidential race grew into a monstrous debacle, the poem took on a life of its own. See if you recognize any of the players. An atypical piece for me . . . which means it might sell a few copies. (Publication Date: 12/21/2016)

The Song Thief (Most Recent Poems)

This is the chair that has all the amperes running to it. If you are going to read just one thing among these varied projects, you might read this. It's a good place to start, because it's representative of the work I'd stand by if I were forced to take a stand. Where I'm trying to create language that lasts beyond the instance of its utterance. Though "Hoby Blue Banks" might be funnier, and "200 Takes" fancier, I'd be honestly honored if you'd spend a few minutes with this manuscript. Which is being readied for publication in 2017 by some numbingly nice folks up in Canada. Yes, Canada, that illusory post-election Shangri-La. That El Dorado. That one. (Now, to be candid, a goodly number of these pieces appear as a download in one of the four Work Samples windows ("The Song Thief" window, of course) at the top of this site; but that's just a bit of haphazard cherry picking, a genial but generally random grouping; if you read through this, you'll find many more poems of their ilk, but in this version they're all settled nice and comfy against one another in a faintly logical framework that might, on a good day, be called "thematic." Oh, that word.)

Last Prayer at Steel Pier (A Chapbook In The Making)

Last prayer at Steel Pier
There is a reason your eye stopped here.
You know what it was famous for.
Always there was someone praying.
And somewhere, far back in the crowd,
a different prayer, a secret prayer.
There is a reason your eye stopped here.
What is it that you’re praying for?  

I Was Big For My Age (An Early Short Story)

One of the first short stories I ever wrote. I'm still vaguely fond of it. Perhaps because of its poetic opening image.

200 Takes (Excerpts From A Long, Orotund, Ambiguous Novel)

The novel is built to carry on for two hundred chapters ("200 Takes") within the larger mystery of the framing device -- which is itself framed -- but that's a formidable, ambitious assignment. Maybe John Barth could prosecute such a tome, but he's been writing shorter stuff of late; perhaps David Foster Wallace could bring it off, but he's dead, and I fear that I might be, too, if I ever tried to finish writing the damned thing. Which, with a little wine buzz, I am moved to contemplate from time to time. But, no. So perhaps wherever it lies is as far as it's going to get, like this nameless desert wanderer overcome by heat and thirst. This nobody. This nothing.

  • 200 Takes - A fiction in divers parts

    200 TAKES -- Unfinished novel, but quite a few of the chapters stand, as written, on their own two gnarly feet, not so much asocial as simply disinterested in their neighboring chapters. These whole-within-themselves slabs of writing beef I have lavishly PDF'd, all for your delectation. So if you've pushed your way through this site, this presentation of comestibles, here's a penultimate dish for you. Here be hopes you find it tasty.
  • 200 Takes - Foreword - 1st page

    Open the whole document to read on . . . .
  • Two Hundred Takes - Baker Portfolio Excerpts

    A multitude of middle (perhaps middling) chapters mercifully excised so that you can move through this a quantum more swiftly. Deletions of no import, though: what appears here stands on its own. Those few poems curtsying within some of these pages -- especially the Bukowsiki forgery -- have long since been edited. Hopefully improved. But I've decided to let this highly episodic novel stand as written a decade ago. Maybe one day I'll breathe some fresh life into it. As Mark Twain once said, I dunno. Mebbe.

    PDF icon Two Hundred Takes - Baker Portfolio Excerpts

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