Needless to say, Epton's collection doesn't necessarily fit any of the rules for books of poetry. For one thing the illustrations by Stacee Kalmanovsky, which remind me a bit of Chagall watercolors without the flying cows, provide a context for the words that seems to change them, making them part of a larger yet still deeply personal discussion. In addition, Epton sprinkles his book with quotations from other poets, and he chooses an eclectic lot (Sherman Alexie, Mary Karr, Marge Piercy, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, among others). This, too, contributes to the feel that when we read Wild Once and Captured we are entering the thought processes of the author, discovering the places he's been thinking about and how he got to them. There's a moving prose elegy for Phyllis Hall, an old friend who lived in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit and who opened her house to a large extended family that included Epton for a while. He writes that early on he realized "that whiteness was both a privilege and a sort of stupidity about the world. I thought these things with a kind of sorrow I couldn't evade ..." And he continues that "Phyllis's house was the place where my whiteness mattered least and where I did not have to evade the sorrow because I could briefly set it aside."
Sometimes in the book he adopts ancient voices and creates new characters to speak them. For instance, he writes a long and sympathetic retelling of the story of Jezebel, first told in the biblical books of Kings. Epton's poem begins
You know when we met
I was a girl who loved