Hello, Summer

The semester has ended, and I’m thinking about the long summer ahead. I have many projects planned: more poems to write for Wild Kingdom, a book review of Michael Shewmaker’s Penumbra, and a collaborative project with my dear friend James Allen Hall (more about that to come). Often I find that I’m most productive when my schedule is […]

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Those Winter Sundays

Another poem that has always meant a tremendous amount to me is Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays.” I love to teach it (but usually struggle to read it aloud to my students without choking up). I love the precision of Hayden’s choices–“Sundays too my father got up early”–that use of “too” such an efficient use […]

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A Display of Mackerel

In the classroom, many of my writing prompts focus on imitation, on the act of engaging in a conversation with our literary predecessors and contemporaries. I preach the idea that poets should be permeable, that our poems should show the influences of what we’re reading, because I practice it in my own work. For instance, Mark […]

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The Handmaid’s Tale

Like so many readers, I first discovered Margaret Atwood’s dystopic novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, when I was a sophomore or junior in college. It was the mid-90s, about a decade after the book’s publication. But, already, The Handmaid’s Tale was canonical (and I went to school known for its particular love of literary canons, St. John’s College, […]

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The Writer

My first academic year at the University of North Texas will be over in a few, short weeks (tempus really does fugit). Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about one of my favorite poems by Richard Wilbur, “The Writer.” It’s a poem about learning and teaching, how difficult both kinds of work can be, the dangers that […]

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The Campus Novel

As part of my research for my current manuscript-in-progress, Wild Kingdom, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the “campus novel,” that is, a novel that is set at an academic institution and that often deals with the palace intrigue of a department (most frequently, of an English department). This summer, I’m planning to (re)read […]

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The Manifesto Project

Another anthology that I’ve been delinquent in mentioning is The Manifesto Project, edited by Rebecca Hazelton and Alan Michael Parker. Here’s a description of this terrific book: The poetic manifesto has a long, rich history that hasn’t been updated until now. What does a poetic manifesto look like in a time of increased pluralism, relativism, and […]

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Bared

One of the hardest things about the rhythms of the academic year is that most of my reading for pleasure is relegated to winter break, spring break, and to the long stretch of summer. So, for instance, even when beautiful anthologies arrive in the mail (anthologies that perhaps include my poems), they often end up […]

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The Smell of Springtime

For many years now, I’ve been a passionate lover of perfume, a perfume nerd I call myself. My obsession with perfume became such a large part of my reading and writing that, in 2014, in collaboration with my friend Lindsay Lusby, I co-edited The Book of Scented: 100 Contemporary Poems about Perfume. Here’s a description of the anthology: What […]

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I’m the Poem-A-Day!

Today, the Academy of American Poets featured my “Syllabus for the Dark Ahead,” as part of its Poem-A-Day series. This poem comes from a manuscript that I’ve been working on since September 2016. Wild Kingdom explores what I’m thinking of as the “hidden, birdlike ferocity of academia.” While many of us hold cherished beliefs about higher education […]

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