Wolfe/Being Ninety


An epic adaptation of Beowulf set in the Old West and turning into a critique of man's encroachment on nature.

By Donald Mace Williams

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When a strange, beguiling creature is found to have slaughtered first the cattle of a lonely ranch in the late nineteenth-century Texas, then one of its laborers, the fate of the locals is placed in the hands of an out-of-towner, a calm and confident young man by the name of Billy Wolfe. In this epic adaptation of Beowulf, Donald Mace Williams recasts the epic poem, setting it in the Old West and turning it into a critique of man's encroachment on nature.

In Being Ninety, Williams recounts his more than nine decades as a child of the Depression, a poet, journalist, professor, classically trained singer, husband of 62 years, father, and lifelong wanderer. Williams's life reads like a picaresque novel of Texas and many points farther afield. He forges on through his nineties on the strengths of his love of the prairies and his memories of his loving wife, Nell, and ultimately of his devotion to the writing life.

DONALD MACE WILLIAMS is a former writing coach for The Wichita Eagle and reporter and editor for papers that include Newsday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Amarillo Globe-News. He has taught English and journalism at West Texas State and Baylor Universities. Williams holds a doctorate in English from the University of Texas. He lives in Canyon, Texas, and his poetry has been published widely in journals in the U.S.


Wolfe/Being Ninety

REVIEWS

"Donald Mace Williams' Wolfe is a flawless epic, and in turning the legend of Beowulf into a critique of man's encroachment on nature, it has a chance at ringing the bell of the current zeitgeist."

— Timothy Green, editor, Rattle

"It is a fine thing to see Donald Mace Williams's superb narrative poem, Wolfe, reprinted. Set on an isolated ranch toward the end of the Frontier days, Wolfe is part-Western, part-horror tale, but all epic in its imagination. This new book restores this fascinating work to the canon of contemporary narrative verse."

— Dana Gioia, former California state poet laureate and former chairperson, National Endowment for the Arts.

"Not many of us make it into our nineties with all our marbles, and fewer still will have enough marbles to write with frankness and wit about our experience of advanced age. It's a help, though, if, like Donald Mace Williams, you were blessed from the beginning with more marbles than most of the rest of us acquire and lose over our lifetimes. Poet, journalist, professor, classically trained singer, husband of 62 years, father, and lifelong wanderer, Williams's life reads like a picaresque novel of Texas and many points farther afield. He forges on through his nineties on the strengths of his love of the prairies and his memories of his loving wife, Nell, and ultimately of his devotion to the writing life. Williams is a Texas treasure."

— Alan J. Altimont, associate professor of English, St. Edward's University

"Donald Mace Williams proves to be both an able interpreter and a congenial guide to a place we're all destined to inhabit, if we're fortunate. For the young and the middle-aged, for those beyond middle age, Being Ninety is a welcome gift."

— Joe Holley, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of the Houston Chronicle's "Native Texan" column



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