Not for Luck

By Derek Sheffield. Wheelbarrow Books, 2021. 

Winner of the Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize (selected by Mark Doty), Not for Luck ushers us into the beauty and grace that comes from giving attention to the interconnections that make up our lives. In particular, these poems explore a father’s relationship with his daughters, which is rooted in place and time. There is tenderness and an abiding ecological consciousness, but also loss and heartache, especially about environmental degradation. We are invited to listen to the languages of other beings. Through encounters with a herd of deer, a circle of salmon in a mountain creek, two bears on a stretch of coast, a river otter, and a shiny-eyed wood rat, these poems offer moments of wonder that celebrate our place as one species among many on our only earth.

Praise for the book:

“Poetry to make you long for moments in the wild.” — The Millions

“In Not for Luck, Derek Sheffield achieves something of inestimable value: a trustworthy, convincing voice.” — Mark Doty

“Exquisitely observed, crystalline in its imagery, this book is an act of vision, bringing us the world up close. Like the wood rat in ‘The Seconds,’ Sheffield is a collector, a historian ‘who would make hill after hill of all the years…’ Lucky us.” — Ellen Bass

 “Derek Sheffield writes with a marvelous dual vision, coalescing details of the natural and human worlds, illuminating moments that sparkle and shimmer within.” — Arthur Sze

“Here is a true voice in our Western landscape.” — Gary Soto

“Not for Luck is a skilled, true, deeply lived collection.” — David James Duncan

“Not for Luck displays a poet working at the top of his talent, creating an often radiant display of crystalline moments drawn or filtered out of the ordinary passages of life—as father, husband, son, teacher, environmentalist, and most of all (to bring all these together) poet.” — Eamon Grennan

“Derek Sheffield has created a collection of love letters to the earth, its varied landscapes, atmospheres, weathers, and living things.” — Rhina Espaillat