The Abridged History of Rainfall

Finalist, National Book Awards 2016 for Poetry

The Abridged History of Rainfall, by Jay Hopler, book cover
ISBN 9781944211264
Jay Hopler author photo, credit Ryan Johnson Photography
Jay Hopler

Jay Hopler (1970-2022) was the author of Green Squall and The Abridged History of Rainfall, a National Book Award Finalist; and the editor, with Kimberly Johnson, of Before the Door of God: An Anthology of Devotional Poetry. More about this author >

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Jay Hopler’s second collection, a mourning song for his father, is an elegy of uproar, a careening hymn to disaster and its aftermath. In lyric poems by turns droll and desolate, Hopler documents the struggle to live in the face of great loss, a task that sends him ranging through Florida’s torrid subtropics, the mountains of the American West, the streets of Rome, and the Umbrian countryside. Vivid, dynamic, unrestrained: The Abridged History of Rainfall is a festival of glowing saints and fighting cocks, of firebombs and birdsong.

Judges Citation

The Abridged History of Rainfall is a core sample of grief. A father has died, a widow remains “in her marriage house,” and a man looks at a world made raw by intimate loss. All is too bright, the butterflies are a “combustion,” and the poet doesn’t know where all this rain has come from. With a heart as large as its keeper’s mind, Jay Hopler brings the age-old metaphors of loss down a notch or two, not casting them into oblivion but recasting them as troubled, needy companions. Hopler teaches us a search through rain doesn’t come easily, and that an elegy to a father is, at its purest form, a book of lonely praise.


Jay Hopler reads from The Abridged History of Rainfall 2016 NBAs Finalists Reading