What do you know?
How I hide my flaws.
What do you know?
opening and closing their wings together
in a little hill
on the beach.
—"The Worrier bed"
The Worrier poems, like a string of worry beads, are dialogues between two interior voices exploring topics as varied as fur coats, marriage, scars, vanishing bees, a silent film star, toads, and volunteers. Strongly imagistic, and often placed in wild landscapes of Utah and Wisconsin, these poems strangely soothe with their surprising offbeat answers to Takacs's worries about intimacy, loss, and turmoil in midlife and beyond; about disappearing wilderness, and compassion, in the world at large. Despite worrying, the poems seem fearless in what they tackle, and in their language and form, creating lightness, promise.
"The Worrier presents a series of internalized interviews, mysteriously straightforward questions that often meet with oblique open-ended replies, and lead invariably to further questions. In this way, Nancy Takacs worries her 'topics.' Sly and forthright, delightful and unsettled, her poems read like an explorer's field notes, veering off in unexpected directions across what we thought was charted terrain, worrying secrets and plastic, freesia and vanishing bees. Yet, like any explorer worth her salt, she is a wanderer confident enough 'to get lost,/turn the map upside down,/be surprised.'"—James Haug, Juniper Prize for Poetry judge and author of Legend of the Recent Past
"At first Nancy Takacs's The Worrier feels as if it is the beginning an elaborate riddle. The poems are fueled all the way through by steady questions. What is it shaped like? What have you learned? Was any of it true? What will you do? As the book goes on it begins to feel like an interrogation, and later it feels as if there has never been any other way other than to proceed by questioning. It's often said of someone they ask too many questions. This isn't the case in The Worrier. Here we understand how without questions we could not make good sense of anything."—Dara Wier, Juniper Prize for Poetry judge and author of You Good Thing
"These poems stun and fascinate as if they have been chiseled from canyon walls, their edges smoothed and rounded by river current."—Kate Kingston, author of History of Grey
"Imagine waking at sunrise just beneath timberline, crawling out of the pack tent and lifting a double handful splash of the world's crispest water to your face. That is how Nancy Takacs's poems strike, and my reaction is always delightful astonishment."—David Lee, author of Bluebonnets, Firewheels, and Brown-Eyed Susans
"The Worrier is an astonishing collection studded with miraculous knots of imagery and revelation as startling and delicate as bird tracks in the snow."—15 Bytes
"These Worrier voices resonate with the wisdom and turmoil of mid-life as they traverse remote wilderness landscapes."—Katie Kingston