— Nils Peterson

Introduction from Nils Peterson
A few poems



A Walk to the Center of Things:

poems by

Nils Peterson

The poems have great affection for the feminine, and they are wonderfully patient with human confusion.

Robert Bly

Nils Peterson’s poems move with depth, authority, and the occasional grace-granting glint of humor as they travel through image, idea, and a deep storehouse of recollection both cultural and personal. A lifetime’s attention to both writing and living buoys these intimate, intelligent, sometimes chastened, sometimes celebratory, but always compassionate pages.

James Hirshfield

Niles Peterson is a poet who sets the world before us — tangible and mysterious. With almost effortless craft and a superbly tuned ear for the music of language, he reveals the luminous within the everyday events of our lives. To use Sappho’s words, he is an artisan of the “keen, clear song.” Varied in subject and manner, his poems embody a deep pleasure and wonder in being alive, and they bring us into the company of a larger life.

Joseph Stroud

ISBN: 978-1-61170-027-5

A Walk to the Center of Things

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Nils Peterson taught in the English and Humanities Departments at San Jose State University from 1963 to 1999. He was Coordinator of the Creative Writing Emphasis for more than 20 years, and served as Coordinator of the Creative Arts and Chair of the Humanities Department. He was chosen as Professor of the Year by the Student Honor Society.

He has published poems in many journals, has written science fiction, as well as articles on subjects as varying as golf and Shakespeare. A chapbook of poems entitled Here Is No Ordinary Rejoicing was published by No Deadlines Press, a collection of poems entitled The Comedy of Desire, with an introduction by Robert Bly, was published by the Blue Sofa Press and a collection of poems entitled Driving a Herd of Moose to Durango appeared in 2005.

He was not only a poetry consultant for San Jose State Studies but also an an editor for Discover America, a collection of poems celebrating the bicentennial anniversary of the USA, and a contributing editor to The Blue Sofa Review and Americas Review.

Nils was nominated for a 2005 Pushcart Prize.

He is one of the founding members of Poetry Center San José, and the first Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County.

Nils PetersonNils Peterson

~ Copyright Material ~


There is a scene in the Odyssey where the hero digs a trench, surrounds it with milk, honey, wine, water, barley, then cuts the throats of a ram and black ewe. Their dark blood falls into the earth wound. Then out of Erebus eager souls erupt, longing to eat and drink, longing to wear again the sweet cloak of flesh.
           As I’ve put this collection together, I’ve felt a little like Odysseus as the ghosts of my poems gathered around me, each wanting the blood of ink, the flesh of paper, the inclusion of memory. But they could not all fit. You’ll remember that he had to crouch before the pit of sacrifice with drawn sword and hold off the many who wanted to speak, for awhile even the shade of his mother. Discrimination is not easy.
           It is 2011, my 77th year. The earliest poem in this collection was published in the Beloit Poetry Journal in 1961. So, more than half century of writing poetry.
           I wish to offer to all of my poetic attempts thanks. You taught me much. Where we’ve succeeded, you’ve left me pleased. Where I’ve failed, you’ve shown me what I must learn.
           And my particular gratitude goes to those poems that are here included. Sometimes you have made me see myself embarrassingly clearly. Sometimes you’ve preserved for me in the amber of syllables, a person or a moment. Sometimes you have shown me the shining of the world. Sometimes you have shown me where the world isn’t shining. That too one needs to know.

          And so my friends, my poems, my thanks. —Nils Peterson

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A few poems from the book 
~ Copyright Material ~

Poem 1
Poem 2
Poem 3
Poem 4

~ Copyright Material ~

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