If William O’Daly’s poetry, like Neruda’s or Lorca’s, suggests an understanding of surrealism," writes Peter Weltner in his foreword to The New Gods, it is "a surrealism of the vital world, of a language that marries 'spirit and action' to a pure purpose, a sustained improvisation 'between roots and sky' that binds the near with the far, distance with the here and now." Wise, beautiful, and lyrically grounded in the elemental, the poems comprising O'Daly's first full-length volume chart a trajectory well beyond the self and with a stunning breadth of vision. They span cultural and historical geographies and the expanse of time to celebrate the relationships that sustain the human family and challenge the solipsistic origins of our inhumane words and actions. The New Gods invites us to participate in the authentic, in “the solace of not seeking,” even as "we give the earth back to our feet.
William O’Daly has translated eight books of the late-career and posthumous poetry of Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda and most recently Neruda’s first volume, Book of Twilight, a finalist for the 2018 Northern California Book Award in Translation. O’Daly’s chapbooks of poems include The Whale in the Web, The Road to Isla Negra, Water Ways (a collaboration with JS Graustein), and Yarrow and Smoke. A National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, he was a finalist for the 2006 Quill Award in Poetry and in September 2021 received the American Literary Award from the bilingual Korean American journal Miju Poetry and Poetics. A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, his poems, translations, essays, and reviews have been published in numerous journals and as part of multimedia exhibits and performances. He has received national and regional honors for literary editing and instructional design and served on the national board of Poets Against War. Currently, he is Lead Writer for the California Water Plan, the state’s strategic plan for sustainably and equitably managing water resources.