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Fifteen billion years ago, there was nothing, not even light. Now, we live in a universe that plays host to trillions of galaxies with uncountable stars, worlds, and maybe even other life. How did we get from there to here? Us From Nothing is a historical epic prose poem about the most important milestones in world history, from the Big Bang to the near future. It traces the tale of how the universe formed, how life arose, how humanity amplified the Earth’s abundance, and how our future might emerge from where we find ourselves now.


Bouvier gives us a time-lapse view of time itself—all of it—from the Big Bang through the emergence of humans (music composes us) on to the present day, in which we are the aliens, and from there into an amortal future. His intricate and stunningly beautiful sentences are full of surprising scientific specificity. It’s sleight of hand at its most poetic.
– Cole Swensen, author of Art in Time

This is a marvelous book. Only an immensely fertile imagination could tell so elemental a tale in so straightforward yet evocative a fashion. Simple sentences often carry astounding weight. Bouvier makes one care about characters like “Life” and “We” and then the emergence of virtually all of the world’s major thinkers in cameo.
– Charles Altieri, UC-Berkeley

Geoff Bouvier has written a tour through physics and biology and language and art and mathematics and sociology, to the point where such categorizations fall away into meaninglessness, and everything becomes, again, one. This book, like all great books, reframes reality, imagines unbelievable true stories, and by doing so creates for us a richer way of apprehending the world.
– Patrick Madden, author of Disparates

An encyclopedic epic after Eduardo Galeano, Us from Nothing takes on history in poetically compressed, paragraphic cantos. In conversation with cosmic origins as it connects with patterns, past events and pressing concerns, the whole corrects records, and delights in telling a tale of the tribe. A contextualizing arrangement, part Blake, part Williams, wholly relational and delighting.
– Hoa Nguyen, author of A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure

Author photo of Geoff Bouvier

Geoff Bouvier’s third full-length volume of prose poetry, Us From Nothing, is a poetic history that stretches from the big bang to the near future. It will be published in 2023 in Canada (from Wolsak and Wynn’s Buckrider imprint) and in 2024 in the United States (by Black Lawrence Press). His first book, Living Room, was selected by Heather McHugh as the winner of the 2005 APR/Honickman Prize. His second book, Glass Harmonica, was published in 2011 by Quale Press. Recent writings have appeared in American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Denver Quarterly, jubilat, New American Writing, Western Humanities Review, and VOLT. He received an MFA from Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts in 1997, and a PhD in Creative Writing from Florida State University in 2016. In 2009, he was the Roberta C. Holloway visiting poet at the University of California-Berkeley. He lives in Richmond, Virginia, with his partner, the novelist SJ Sindu, and teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University.