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Book Title

We Don't Know We Don't Know

Author 1
Nick Lantz
On the moon,


astronaut David Scott drops a hammer and a falcon feather,


and we learn nothing


we didn't already know.


—from "Ancient Theories"   Taking its title from a dodging statement from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, We Don't Know We Don't Know assesses what it means to claim new knowledge within a culture that professes to know everything already. The result is a poetry that upends the deeply and dangerously assumed concepts of such a culture—that war is an inevitable and necessary component to keeping stability, that new knowledge is always better knowledge, that history is a steady progress, that humans are in control of the natural order.

Nick Lantz's poems hurtle through time from ancient theories of physics to the CIA training manual for the practice of torture, from the history of the question mark to the would-be masterpieces left incomplete by the deaths of Leonardo da Vinci, Nikolai Gogol, Bruce Lee, and Jimi Hendrix. Selected by Linda Gregerson for the esteemed Bakeless Prize for Poetry, We Don't Know We Don't Know is the debut of a wide-ranging, audacious new voice.

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Winner of the 2008 Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize for Poetry, Nick Lantz's poems introduce a startling new voice.

About the Author

Nick  Lantz
Credit: Vicky Lantz
Nick Lantz is the author of How to Dance as the Roof Caves In, and two previous poetry collections, We Don’t Know We Don’t Know, winner of the Bakeless Prize in Poetry, and The Lightning That Strikes the Neighbors’ House, winner of the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. He teaches at Sam Houston State University and lives in Texas.
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  • “A striking volume of poems that are necessarily rift, both amongst and inside themselves, with fruitful cognitive dissonance. . . . Meditative and piercing, this book limns the tug of war between eternal verities and their contemporary manifestations.”—The Barnes & Noble Review
  • “[We Don’t Know We Don’t Know] immediately joined my list of contemporary poetry classics. Any book that sets Donald Rumsfeld alongside Pliny the Elder then draws from that strange marriage a world-view by turns tragic, angry and hilarious is rare find indeed—and this is a masterpiece.”—New Statesman
  • We Don’t Know We Don’t Know is a poignant mediation on the limits of human language and thought. Nick Lantz effectively demonstrates that words can indeed be used as weapons of mass destruction, but they can also be constructed into escape hatches where the mind can recover its freedom and count itself ‘king of an infinite space.’”—The New Leader
  • We Don’t Know We Don’t Know is poetry that will make readers think about why they see the world the way they do.”—Midwest Book Review


This book is made possible, in part, through the Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize, awarded by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference of Middlebury College in support of emerging writers, and by the generosity of Graywolf Press donors like you.
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