Great News About Simple Machines!

| Simple Machines

In spring 2018, while I was working on the manuscript that became American Samizdat, I also began work on another manuscript of poetry. At the time, I was teaching a class called Form & Theory and, because my students writing formal poems, I decided to return to received forms too. And this is how Simple Machines came into being. The book is a long sequence that thinks about how different things can fall apart: relationships, friendships, communities, even democracy itself.

The collection alternates between individual Petrarchan sonnets and heroic crowns. For the uninitiated, a heroic crown is a linked series of 15 sonnets. The last line of the first sonnet becomes the first line of the next sonnet, and so on, with the last line of the 14th sonnet being the first line of first sonnet. The 15th sonnet is comprised of all the first lines of the previous 14 poems. I wrote the first heroic crown, just to see if I could crack the code of the form. When I realized that I finally had–after years of attempting to write a crown–I wrote three more!

A few days ago, I received the wonderful news that Simple Machines had won the 2019 Richard Wilbur Award and would be published the University of Evansville Press at the end of the year. It was a tremendous surprise, given that I had only just begun to submit the manuscript for consideration. I am absolutely thrilled that Simple Machines has found a home and still feel a little stunned at the news. If you want to read the opening sonnet in the book, “Wireless Doorbell,” you can find it here.