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Progress on the Subject of Immensity

Leslie Ullman

Winner of the 2014 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for Poetry Book

“For over thirty years now, Leslie Ullman has steadily refined a poetry of the most acute and lyrically precise mindfulness, of what one of her poems calls the ‘greater alertness.’ This method has been forged in part by her ability to render the harsh beauties of the southwestern landscapes that have been her adopted home. More important still, however, is her almost shamanistic willingness to visit those liminal states between waking and dreaming, conventional reality and phantasm—states that sometimes offer menace, sometimes wonderment. This is all to say that Leslie Ullman is a poet of the first order, writing at the height of her very considerable powers.”—David Wojahn, author of World Tree


Leslie Ullman is professor emerita of creative writing at the University of Texas–El Paso (UTEP), where she established and directed the Bilingual MFA Program. She currently teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Ullman is the author of three poetry collections: Natural Histories (winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award), Dreams by No One’s Daughter, and Slow Work Through Sand (co-winner of the 1997 Iowa Poetry Prize). Her poems and essays have been published in a number of magazines and literary journals.


“Leslie Ullman at last publishes her fourth book, Progress on the Subject of Immensity, to reveal the strength of the human mind at work on questions of its own purpose. At home in the natural world, the poet speaks from silence to wonder if ‘. . . perhaps someday we’ll / think twice before we / place footprints over a green / so fresh it seems part sun.’ Part meditation, part revelation, Ullman has written a masterpiece.”


Hilda Raz, Mary Burritt Christiansen Poetry Series editor

“Ullman draws me along inextricably in this progress, with her attentiveness to inner and outer worlds that is a form of reverence. Her words hover in the mind, making their own weather.”


Carole Simmons Oles, author of Waking Stone: Inventions on the Life of Harriet Hosmer

In her new collection, Leslie Ullman explores the possibilities that may surface—erotic, spiritual—when familiar dualisms (Mind/Body, Dream/Waking Life, Animate/Inanimate) fall away. We may become “harmless as the crane or butterfly” or find “the mountain / opens in us a third eye to find / the places that will let us fly / safely and land without breaking.” Although “we hacked our way to the asphalt,” Ullman’s language for mindfulness allows us to grasp “an ocean we can borrow any time / we cup our minds around it like hands.” This book illustrates, poem by poem, how metaphor maps a route to connection and transformation. Read these poems and feel awake in ways familiar and strange at once.


Robin Becker, author of Domain of Perfect Affection

6 x 9 in. 80 pages