Bill Wolak is a poet who lives in New Jersey and teaches Creative Writing at William Paterson University. He has just published his fifteenth book of poetry entitled The Nakedness Defense with Ekstasis Editions. His poetry has appeared in over a hundred magazines. His most recent translation with Mahmood Karimi-Hakak, Love Me More Than the Others: Selected Poetry of Iraj Mirza, was published by Cross-Cultural Communications in 2014. His translations have appeared in such magazines as The Sufi Journal, Basalt, Visions International, World Poetry Journal, and Atlanta Review.
His critical work and interviews have appeared in Notre Dame Review, Persian Heritage Magazine, Gargoyle, Southern Humanities Review, The Paterson Literary Review, Ascent, Florida English, The Seventh Quarry, and Prime Numbers Magazine. Mr. Wolak has been awarded several National Endowment for the Humanities scholarships and two Fulbright-Hays scholarships to study and travel in India.
In 2007, he was selected to participate in a Friendship Delegation to Iran sponsored by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, America’s largest and oldest interfaith peace and justice organization. During the Summer of 2010, Mr. Wolak was awarded a Field Study Opportunity in China and Japan by the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia. He was selected to be a featured poet at festivals in India five times: at the 2011 Kritya International Poetry Festival in Nagpur, at the 2013 Hyderabad Literary Festival, at the Tarjuma 2013: Festival of Translators in Ahmedabad, at the 2014 Hyderabad Literary Festival, and at the 2017 Goa Arts and Literary Festival. In 2016, he was a featured poet at The Mihai Eminescu International Poetry Festival in Craiova, Romania; Europa in Versi, Lake Como, Italy; The Pesaro International Poetry Festival, Pesaro, Italy, The Xichang-Qionghai Silk Road International Poetry Week, Xichang, China; and Ethnofest, Pristina, Kosovo.
Also by Bill Wolak
Pale as an Explosion (1977)
Archeology of Light (2011)
Warming the Mirror (2012)
When Dreaming Birds Sing (2012)
The Strength of the Spider’s Web Decides (2012)
Whatever Nakedness Allows (2013)
Perfume in a Sandstorm (2013)
The Art of Invisibility (2013)
The Statue of Lightning (2013)
The Lover’s Body (2014)
Singing Their Lovers Naked (2014)
Confusing the Gods (2015)
Love Opens the Hands: New & Selected Love Poems (2015)
Snow Flakes Blown Into a Keyhole (2015)
The Rain That Makes Ashes Dance (2017)
The Nakedness Defense (2017)
Original Poetry & Translations with Mahmood Karimi-Hakak
Your Lover’s Beloved: 51 Ghazals by Hafez (2009)
Love Emergencies (2010)
Love Me More Than the Others: Selected Poems of Iraj Mirza (2014)
Translations with Maria Bennett
My Voice Seeks You: The Selected Poetry of Annelisa Addolorato (2013)
Translations into Other Languages
In the Silence Between Love Songs / In der Stille zwischen Liebesliedern,
German translation by Silvia Kofler (2015)
Deep into the Erasures of Night / Răsăturile nopții,
Romanian translation by Olimpia Iacob (2015)
In the Hall of Lost Footsteps / Ĭn sala pașilor pierduți with Daniel Corbu,
Romanian translation by Olimpia Iacob (2016)
Wind-seeking Seeds / Semițe căutătoare de vânt with Ioan Nistor,
Romanian translation by Olimpia Iacob (2016)
Let’s Not Sleep Tonight / Questa notte non dormiamo,
Italian translation by Laura Corraducci (2016)
The Wind’s Despair / Vetmia e erës,
Albanian translation by Jeton Kelmendi (2016)
Duet of Fireflies / with Maki Starfield
Japanese translation by Maki Starfield (2018)
Love Opens the Hands
Only the heart enjoys
this fishing without a net;
beauty locks all the doors
and disaster breaks them down.
Long absence resonates anticipation
like the guesswork of desire,
but deep roots grow
deliberately around rock
so that any guest who finally arrives
eclipses the sun becoming the feast
and the wine and the dessert.
Touch the scar, and it
will offer some astounding advice:
loveliness fades, but not grace;
the world loves lightning
less than fire.
Love opens the hands for kindness.
and kindness is a debt
you never tire of repaying.
Song of the Lost Daughter
Hair of rope dragged along the ground,
I sleep in rags huddled in a cardboard box
dreaming of shoes, candy, and clean water.
My father disappeared looking for work,
my mother searching for food.
Now little brother brings me brackish water,
and I hold him like a blessing while he sleeps.
Too scared to search for firewood,
too weak to beg for food, too tired for a lullaby,
hair of rope dragged along the ground,
my emaciated body too thin for an embrace.
The Lover’s Body
May your hands
reach beyond dreams
awakens as flesh.
May your kisses
seep deeper than rain
into the body’s
May your fingers
touch the unexpected
always with the thrill