Arts & Sciences by Kirk Westphal


Kirk Westphal’s Arts and Sciences explores on more than its two eponymous planes. I almost said levels, but neither lords it over the other. In this sincere yet sly collection science metaphors for art, and art personalizes science. And if one can dwell in both, as these poems surely do, the rewards multiply exponentially. At once a catalog of “Basic Physics” intersecting expressions from “the Artisan’s breath,” this book enacts “The pull and lust of planets / Spinning in the same plane” but where “There can be no equilibrium / once there has been a wink.” Meanwhile, Westphal, whether in free or formal verse, has mastered rhythm and sound. From amuse-bouches such as “Peaches hang as saffron suns on leeward side,” to the out-Poe-ing of Poe in “While behind a crystal glasswork / micron brasswork in precision,” poem after poem is, complexly, a sonic pleasure. —D. R. James


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 92
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: August, 2020
  • ISBN: 978-1-948017-93-0


In his latest collection Kirk Westphal recognizes that western thought tends to distinguish one thing from another casting a scrim over the reality of the whole. Reading these radically intelligent poems enables us to realize that human experience, the world itself can’t be separated. Westphal’s work awakens us to a world for which there are no words, certainly no distinctions. Go with this poet as  Human eros disappears, be it into nature, the domestic, the world of work, the world. Go with this poet as he takes his “walk into breathing/the amber taste of morning air”. —Jack Ridl 

There is science in this wonderfully readable collection of poems. It sometimes provides the metaphors that the art, also here, transforms into human emotion. There is music here, too, both as subject and as style. There’s exact observation and hints of eros. Kirk Westphal tells us that sometimes “the human and the instrument unite,” and those moments are often illustrated in these carefully made and memorable poems. —Keith Taylor

A red piano in a wheat field.  A woman painting violets in a meadow.  A dove lying soft behind frosted glass.  Kirk Westphal spins light and shadow, sound and silence, the known and the unknown into a collection so intimate and stirring, a reader risks becoming more than a little undone.  Ready?  “And thus into the colors now we go.” —Melissa Fournier


Einstein’s Serenade

Einstein sang to the cosmos
The divine unity of form and pulse –
but played Thomas to
the natural instinct of waves
And She blushed violet standing before him,
In waves.
Waves that make your hands rise and fall
if you understand the equivalence
of light and lifeblood
the permanent and periodic
of each spilling moment,
the resonance of light and shade
in the dappled forest
and how complete they make each other.
And so may I ask you –
If I sing to you,
will you blush, too,
shutter my doubts,
and hold me in your waves?


Science:  Kirk Westphal spends his days helping to plan for clean and plentiful water throughout the United States.  He has twice received national writing awards for professional journal articles on progressive water management.  In 2006, he contributed to the guidance book State Water Resources Planning in the United States (American Society of Civil Engineers), and has helped draft water policy and management plans in 28 states.

Arts:  By night, he writes poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and a little music, mostly in easy keys.  His poetry has appeared in various journals and anthologies, and he is the author of two previous books:  No Ordinary Game (DownEast Books, 2015), a nonfiction collection of great moments in sports that happen to everyday people, and Bodies of Wood and Water (Kelsay Books, 2018), his first collection of poetry.  In 2018 he finished building a cabin high atop a ravine in Western Massachusetts, where he spends time with his children and writes things like this book.

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Additional information

Weight 6.4 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .375 in