Skip to main navigation Skip to main content

Tickets are available for Graywolf Literary Gala in Minneapolis on September 19. For more details about the event or to make a gift in honor of our 50th anniversary, click here

Book Title

Coming to That

Author 1
Dorothea Tanning
Still later, when I was more in touch with
the world, they told me, "You have a future."
I thought that over. Even if I believed them,
what did my little future, whatever that was,
have to do with the real thing, whatever that is?
—from "Waiting"

In this second daring collection, Coming to That, the centenarian painter and poet Dorothea Tanning illuminates our understanding of creativity, the impulse to make, and the longevity of art. Her unique wit and candor radiate through every poem, every line, and her inquisitive mind is everywhere alive and restless. As she writes in one poem, "If Art would only talk it would, at last, reveal / itself for what it is, what we all burn to know."

Share Title

List Price
Publication Date
Publication Date
Trim Size
Trim Size
6 x 9

"Dorothea Tanning, who has had a long and marvelous life as a visual artist, is our most surprising new poet."—Edward Hirsch, The Washington Post Book World

About the Author

Dorothea  Tanning
Credit: Sylvia Plachy
Dorothea Tanning was born in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1910. She lived an extraordinary life as an artist and writer. She published two memoirs, Birthday and Between Lives: An Artist and Her World; a novel, Chasm; and two collections of poetry, A Table of Content and Coming to That, which appeared a few months before her death in 2012 at her home in New York City.
More by author


  • “I’m not sure what sort of poems we expect from a centenarian, but by any measure Dorothea Tanning’s poems come as a surprise. . . . Mini cliffhangers abound in Tanning’s work, a playful answer to the serious problem of how, at a hundred and one, to regard passing time. . . . Consigned to the here and now, steering wide of melodrama, Tanning sometimes gives us a kind of dreamy, metaphysical small talk—when you think about it, the most defiant use of one’s time imaginable, if time is short. It makes the slightest poems feel like a form of brinkmanship.”Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker
  • “[Coming to That] considers the liabilities of age and gender, and the fallibilities of art, with a cool eye, wryly and dryly.”—Holland Cotter, The New York Times Book Review
  • “[Coming to That] is playful and unrestrained, each poem containing a spontaneous logic of its own. . . . Tanning’s poems take the reader on unexpected journeys that stray far from their beginnings, moving with the momentum of sheer joy and restless artistic energy. Pulsing underneath are larger questions, sometimes almost bittersweet, sometimes daunting.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • Coming to That is a splendid book that will be read again and again.”—San Francisco Book Review, five of five stars
Back to Table of Contents