"Elixir is a multi-personaed action movie, a love poem, a trip down memory lane, a Kulchur lexicon, an ode to NYC and tribute to exotic ports everywhere. It's a tender balm for the paranoid and lonely, and a tentacular tonic for the heart of Time. I loved, once married, and have kept attentive to half a century and more writing of this genius of The Poem. Lewis Warsh opens the doors of perception with wit, suspense, beauty, surprise."

—Anne Waldman

"I'll never forget hearing Lewis Warsh read for the first time, how he kept the room in a trance, at the edge of every line, leaning ever forward. The book was called Inseparable, its poetry driven by an associational logic that is key to the form his work took on over the last few decades. A collage so seamless maybe it's not, a song drifts in and out the window, changing the view but not the tone, which stays with you as the story keeps shifting stanza by stanza, like life itself. Elixir is the latest collection of this dark and playful work, which has changed my sense of what's possible in language. This is poetry that comes back to haunt you in the end. My favorite kind."

—Ryan Eckes

"Elixir is a stunning final collection of poems by Lewis Warsh, full of jokes, music, melancholic flashes, meanderings, and surprises (“The sunlight on the sand is breathing beneath your skin”). It's also a practical handbook of possible 21st century poetic forms, with a wide range of lyric prowess enhanced by memory and humor, looking back on seven decades of reading, writing & publishing. New York City is the locus of the page, a place for and of the poem from start to finish, along with a confluence of personal geographies, glimpses of lives and friends in Cambridge and western Massachusetts in the 1970s and San Francisco and Bolinas in the 1960s (“There are many street corners where last / Conversations took place—”). Reading this book I think of David Bowie's Blackstar and George Harrison's Brainwashed, where death is acknowledged in the songs, a posthumous masterpiece. A tour de force with an absolutely modern sense of poetry as a living craft."

—Guillermo Parra

"I want to talk about how beautiful a book Elixir is, and describe its mastery, and soulfulness, but then I imagine Lewis teasing me about using “mastery,” then teasing the word itself, then placing it in five different phrases to create a tonal scale out of amusement and precision. There are so many layers of possibility Lewis Warsh tended to in his writing, without signaling that he was doing so, which make the poetry inviting and mysterious—steeped in recognition of common experience and wry depths of personal idiosyncrasy. His sense for arrangement of line and sentence across formal vessels that allow everything to be let in and go together is one I've loved and learned from for years. To have this book is to have a gift to dive into."

—Anselm Berrigan

"Lewis Warsh's Elixir gathers the fragments of memory: song lyrics, novel titles, oft-repeated phrases whose meanings transform with time. His gentle voice comes through the lines, measuring time by touching the lives and afterlives of every character who walks through his poems—students, workers, neighbors, exes, lovers. Open Elixir to 'look through the keyhole and see who's there.'"

—Lyric Hunter

"Lewis Warsh always seemed to have a presence of being on the corner, in the room, out and about, tucked in bed, with a preternatural zen consciousness at play, the slight yet complex humor in his eyes, the old devil cigarette smoke wafting to the sky, a hint of a smile, the profundity of poetry defining his heart. To read these poems is to kick back with Lewis, or to hug him, he loved hugs I think. Poetry is nothing if not the illustration of momentous meditation, a laughing affirmation of lust, and a desire for unknowing. Lewis was cool, forever like that."

—Thurston Moore


2022, Ugly Duckling Presse

Paperback 136pp