Water feather
Photograph © Jim Fesler

History of Hurricanes

Northwestern University Press  |  2009

In her third collection of poems, Teresa Cader spins a complete universe of lyrical, probing verse that reaches out to readers and invites them to come inside. These poems deal with love and loss in particularly striking ways, as Cader uses rigorously controlled verse to express chaotic emotion. Stylistically adventurous, her work moves gracefully from intricate, slant-rhymed couplets to elliptical, lanky free verse. Geographically, she takes readers on a ride with stops in Kraków’s rock clubs, colonial New England’s sites, and shrines of contemporary Japan. The shadow of death, especially the loss of Cader’s mother, falls across many of her poems, but her verse reacts viscerally to such events, her emotion resounding out from each line to move through pain or desire.

“What Virginia Woolf said of George Eliot’s Middlemarch is true of Teresa Cader’s History of Hurricanes. This is a book for adults…The history of hurricanes, of the forces we can’t control, is what…defines us…A gorgeous book…It inhabits the difficult questions. It doesn’t attempt to solve anything or demand more clarity than life permits but rather dwells in mystery, in ‘our not knowing.’”

Alan Shapiro

“These poems are wonderfully rich in outer observations that conjure inner ones, that peculiar imaginative power that Hopkins called ‘inscape.’ And like Hopkins, Cader possesses a melancholy and brave and deeply devotional temperament that she embodies in a bold and subtle music.”

Tom Sleigh


  • Finalist for the Sheila Motton Award from the New England Poetry Club
  • “Must Read” Award from the Massachusetts Book Awards


Early in the first and title poem of Teresa Cader’s third collection of poetry, History of Hurricanes, we are thrown headlong into the conflict that haunts nearly all the poems that follow:

No whirling dervish on the radar, no radar, no brackets
no voices warning—no Voice—fugue of trees, lightning

Because we cannot know, we imagine

What will happen to me without you?


That final question, posed within the context of the impending hurricane season, opens the door to countless other impendings—seasonal change, aging, children growing and, of course, death—and places the poems in History of Hurricanes securely within the lyrical realm and, more specifically, in the long tradition of the early Latin and Anglo-Saxon ubi sunt form. The ubi sunt relies upon the question “where are those that came before us” and Cader not only poses this question in various ways throughout the text, but attempts to answer it in ways that are equally compelling. Much like the hurricane that becomes conspicuous in its absence in the above passage, many examples of the form feature a presence, whether abstract or personified, that looms over its protagonists. What is off the radar or forgotten is what most endangers us.

Sugar House Review, Michael McClane

“Cader’s third book examines the mind, heart and soul of contemporary life through domestic speculations, historical wonder, and a response to the natural world that’s both lyrical and visceral. Her sharp observations on the precariousness of what we possess—knowledge, love, and joy—enrich the reader’s experience of each. Her language is sensual and smart, and her poems surprise with every turn.”

Ploughshares, Joyce Peseroff