The Widening Spell: The Future of Poetry in the 21st Century04 Dec 2016, Posted by Article in
The Future of American Poetry in the Twenty-first Century:
Trajectories of Content and Form*
Speculating on where poetry is headed in the twenty-first century reminds me of the dilemma physicists face when attempting to measure sub-atomic particles. If one determines their speed, then their position cannot be precisely determined, remaining somewhere in a cloud of possibilities. If their position is first determined, their speed remains a mystery.
Such it is when speaking of the future of poetry. It is easy to observe, for example, by thumbing through journals published in the final two decades of the twentieth century, that the vast majority of poems were in discrete stanzas, with the line itself serving as the basic syntactical unit. In contrast, as evidenced by anthologies like The Best American Poetry and Best New Poets, a perusal of many journals today reveals a sizeable portion of poems that appear to have been composed by shooting words randomly onto the page from a gun without rifling, making it difficult to determine where lines (often composed of single words) begin or end, and whether the poems are to be read horizontally or vertically.
Other poems may be blocked as paragraphs, the sentence (as in prose) taking precedence over the line. Others still may combine typographical schemes within the poem, taking cues from emails, texts, tweets, quotes, traditional lines of verse, found text reclaimed from novels, creative non-fiction, Wikipedia articles—the list is endless. A few others staunchly remain formal—sonnets, villanelles, and pantoums—some of which push against their boundaries of rhyme schemes and metrical patterns. Still others are left in their traditional trappings, but updated in their content to include a Facebook post gone viral or an episode of the latest reality TV show.
Where all of this is headed is as unknown as the current importance of social media to human endeavors would have been in 1980. Only the speed with which it is changing is evident.
Charles Simic’s quote puts into perspective any attempt to theorize about where poetry will be at the next turn of the century: “Poetry is always the cat concert under the window of the room in which the official version of reality is being written” (Best American Poetry 1992, xv). Since the official version of reality in eighty or so years is unknown, how can we know what the wailing against it will sound like? The prospect seems as difficult as predicting the behavior of cats.
Notwithstanding, there are some trajectories already in place that will likely continue for some time, either before their arcs fizzle out from lack of interest, or before they are met with resistance from a new generation of poets—the past generation of poets perennially asserting, as Donald Hall quips, that “Poetry was always in good shape twenty or thirty years ago; now it has always gone to hell” (BAP 1989, xv).
Three recent developments in American poetry that I believe will continue to influence the next generation of poets, either by accretion or by collision are: 1) the blurring of boundaries between genres and forms; 2) the loosening and (occasionally) the tightening of formal strictures; and 3) the bold enactment of content through form and other prosodic devices. There are a plethora of poets whose work illustrates these elements. The poets cited here have already significantly impacted, or soon will impact, the direction of twenty-first century poetry.
In 2002, Jenny Boully’s first book, The Body, not only “poke[d] a hole in the notion of a book” (Greenberg, Jacket 19), it also defied categorization. Portions had been previously anthologized in Best American Poetry 2002 (16-24), as well as in Essay: An Experiment. The work consists of one hundred fifty-eight footnotes beneath blank pages—footnotes comprising quotations of real and imagined texts, definitions, poems, historical accounts, dialogue, notes, diary entries, nursery rhymes, postcard messages, fragments of dreams, references to films, novels, works of art, and characters assumed present in the missing text above them. Only a sketchy narrative and blurry figures can be formulated from them, as in the first-person reactions to the missing body of work’s supposed characters’ actions, embedded in footnotes, such as no. 29:
After my sister and I stared at the magazine, we were, the both of us, afraid
to part our legs or even to pee. For months, we were inseparable in the
bathroom, but then, we became brave and decided to look for our holes, and
if the spider did in fact come out we would kill it (18).
Emotional moments like this one are rare; most entries are strictly informative in nature, normally for the purpose of elucidating text but, in the case of The Body, becoming the only text available with which to construct our own imaginative narrative, characters, and plot:
22a In cinematic terms, “actual sound” refers to sound which comes from a visible or identifiable source* within the film. “Commentative sound” is sound which does not come from an identifiable source within the film but is added for dramatic effect** (14).
Of course, footnotes like this one, and many others, seem to be referring to not only the assumed text, but to the primary prosodic device used in The Body, as well, given the insistence of the themes of absence, ontology, and identity, set against the silent space that fills most of every page, and the omissions within many of the footnotes themselves, notated with a “[fragment ends here].” Some footnotes even approach self-awareness, as in the cases below:
143z The following excerpt from Robert Kelly’s “Edmund Wilson on Alfred de Musset: The Dream” was pasted above the author’s various beds in the various places she lived: “Dreams themselves are footnotes…” (72).
144 The mastermind of this roller coaster, in an interview, confessed that the goal of his work is to replicate a ride in which participants are scared out of their minds, yet feel the comforting presence of someone there, riding along and watching over them (73).
For all that The Body is and for all that it isn’t, it awakened readers in the first years of the twenty-first century to the possibilities of taking the blank spaces between lines of poetry to their extreme conclusion, and of substituting a paratextual collage as a poetic form to enact themes that had been previously relegated to the body of the work itself.
“Exhume,” the most emblematic collage poem that populates Kimiko Hahn’s The Artist’s Daughter (20) is reminiscent of Boully’s The Body in the number of genres presented. Hahn manages lengthy quotations, case studies, notes, email, charts, telephone transcripts, and journal entries—all within eight pages. Other similarities exist as well: the subterranean nature of the content, and the superlative manner in which that content is enacted in form, for example.
Unlike The Body, however, “Exhume” provides material from which a narrative can be excavated, containing characters that, although not immediately identifiable, do move through plot, or at least through sequential dialogue, retaining core identity traits and points of view. K, for example, remains hesitant to explore psychological implications of having sex with corpses, shows skepticism toward causality theory of the behavior, and resorts to sarcasm in successive conversations, throughout four pages of text:
[from] Telephone conversation 2/4
K: P is falling apart, dealing with preverbal terrors—
D: Give your ex some credit—it’s actually impressive!
K: Maybe—except why should I have to deal with them as well? I’m dealing with my own preverbal shit by writing about necrophilia. He should leave me out of it, our children also. He shouldn’t involve everyone else in his own necrophilia (22).
The plot in “Exhume,” consists of the pieced-together, unfinished story of a writer who begins researching “Necrophilia” in an obscure text, only to discover that the disorder has metaphorical implications that are as equally difficult to deal with as the idea of having sex with the dead. The narrative flow of the piece is resisted throughout by blocks of information presented as direct quotes from Wilhelm Stekel (taking up almost two of the eight pages of text), and by reactions to that information in the various genres previously mentioned.
This strategy of interspersing reactions between segments of the Stekel passages alerts readers that the title “Exhume” may be applied to the writer’s process of digging up a dead text: “When I read the Stekel passages I am at once disgusted and / intrigued—all my senses curiously spirited” (20). Four lines later she writes: “And / what of exhume 409.24: also, ‘to bring to light, esp. after a period of obscurity.’”
This amplification of necrophilia into a metaphor for relating to other dead or unresponsive agents is further developed throughout the poem. The collage technique of cutting up the beloved Stekel text, and the writer quite literally having her way with each piece, is not all together different from wallowing in a corpse. This first note has turned slightly, and “each” can now be understood in another way: as each dead block of text that the writer wants to herself—not only to “Exhume,” but to feel in her mouth and ears in telephone conversations, to knead with her fingers on the keyboard, to rub “someone else’s raw imagery and private lexicon” (21) into every part of her writing she can expose—in short, to wallow. Thus, the collage form becomes an enactment of not only intercourse with a loved body, but of a nexus of attendant behaviors, as well.
At one point, parts of a chart, providing a chopped up list of types of sexual gratification and occupations of perpetrators, is displayed (21). The act of mutilating and cannibalizing Stekel’s text is carried to the extreme. Two pages after the chart, isolated words begin appearing, as if body parts were lying about: “Preserve relations” is found between a set of notes and an email, and “face death / consuming” appears between that email and “Journal, 2/8” (23), for example. Then italicized words begin making their way into the writer’s notes and Journal entries: “— only P manifests his own brand in / relationships. Wallows.”
Subtleties contribute to the connection between form and content. The reduction of names to letters resists identity of characters in the same way that partially decomposed bodies resist recognition. An email reply to K from [email protected] is rife with overtones: “… The corpse is your metaphor after all. And is this coming from that new lover of yours—S?” (25). S, of course, the first letter of Stekel, is portrayed as a romantic interest of K, the first letter of Kimiko, throughout the piece. It is noteworthy that the journal entries begin in early February, and culminate on Valentine’s Day.
The last “Note,” presumably on February 14, is a final enactment of the content. In the preceding two words, poetic closure, the exhumed text, as well as the subject of necrophilia, with its many metaphors, has been put back into its coffin. Now the time has come to re-bury it—but with the possibility of exhuming it again. It is this possibility—as possible as re-reading the piece—along with the musicality and message of the last lines that completes the enactment of the subject-matter: “…For / myself it is exhume. The smell, taste, texture—of the letter /themselves, as alive on my tongue as a mouthful of dirt” (28).
In his memoir, The Bread of Time, Philip Levine quotes John Berryman as saying that the Beats “don’t write poems,” referring to Berryman’s opinion that they “mistook [Whitman’s] rhythmic effects for prose” (29). One could question whether or not a large portion of Nin Andrews’s body of work, as well as the previously cited works of Boully and Hahn, is poetry. The Book of Orgasms, Andrews’s underground classic, was originally published as fiction by Asylum Press, but later reissued as a book of prose poems under the same title by CSU. Why They Grow Wings is replete with internal dialogue that could just as easily be found in a Don DeLillo novel. And her 2007 release from BOA, Sleeping With Houdini, is a collection of paragraphs that, on the page, could easily pass for postcard stories, such as the book’s opening piece, “Falling:”
Night after night, a girl dreams of falling. Falling from planes, clouds, swings. Always falling. She has been falling for so long, she can’t remember how she ever landed in one world, one town, one farmhouse with yellow curtains, bees circling the ceiling. Sometimes wakened by a callused hand, sometimes sent into a corner, smelling of must and furniture polish to think about it, she feels words drift through her like tiny glass splinters. It is only by lying that she can
stay alive (11).
And were these lines to remain on the page, they very well might remain inside Berryman’s prose box. But once they are lifted into the air as sound, their language unfolds hidden wings, and climbs to unexpected heights, sometimes upstaging (but never losing) the message they bear. And, as with the girl of the poem, their words take time to drift through their readers, gliding in lazy turns, reflecting an Olafur Eliasson-like interior landscape, from a near-infinity of perspectives, rather than thrusting the narrative forward toward some predetermined destination. If balance between form and content is the goal, then Andrews’s paragraphs assist rather than hinder, enact rather than obfuscate, and make her work more, not less, poetic, clearly defining her brand of prose poem as poetry in the guise of prose, echoing dominant themes of the book: lying, deception, magic, escape, mystery, and scatological assertion—many of them occurring in the same poems.
The entire book has an imbedded circular motion, a language of negotiation with gravity and the elements necessary for life, attempting what appears impossible: to escape one frame, one box, one set of chains after another, as Houdini successfully did, at the same time creating a deceptively calm, predictable and prosaic surface. When Andrews is successful (which is most of the time), it all looks so easy: she escapes the confines of the prose form without disturbing the container, much like her girl inquires about Houdini “What if he slipped out of the water when no one was looking? He became an invisible man and is now living his invisible life in the invisible world” (13), and her poems live happily ever after. But when something goes wrong, as in her poem “Sweet Tarts” with its cliché narrative (21), the result is either a poem forcibly chained to a form that does not work for it, or prose that merely dreams of the poetic.
While Boully, Hahn, and Andrews are typical of poets in the previous decade and a half who have succeeded in blurring genre, either by bringing a capacious amount of material heretofore not considered poetry into their text, or by presenting their material in paragraph form, without crafting lines to end on a particular word, many poets in the same time frame have tightened the strictures on what they allow in their work via some kind of formula. Three such poets are Christian Bok, Jen Bervin, and Srikanth Reddy.
The title of Bok’s Eunoia is the shortest word in the English language containing all five vowels. It also happens to mean “beautiful thinking.” Technically the book is a lipogram, in which each chapter (“A,” “E,” “I,” “O,” and “U”), limits itself to the use of words with that single vowel. In his postlude, entitled “The New Ennui,” Bok states that this “crippling” of language is for the purpose of showing that “even under such improbable conditions of duress, language can still express an uncanny, if not sublime, thought” (103). Bok forces himself to abide by many other subsidiary rules: 1) all themes must, in some way, be about the art of writing; 2) all chapters must contain various images: a banquet, something debauched, a pastoral tableau, and a nautical voyage; 3) all sentences must use internal rhyme; the text must exhaust the lexicon for each vowel (actually Bok attains in excess of ninety-eight percent of the available words using that vowel exclusively); 4) the text must not repeat words other than conjunctions and articles; and 5) the letter Y is suppressed.
As with Boully and Hahn, the end result often is self-reflective (a characteristic of much contemporary poetry—blurring the boundaries between reader and writer and text), but with Bok, the language does approach a lyricism that one might think not possible with the aforementioned strictures applied. The following lines are illustrative:
Lightning flicks its riding whip, blitzing this night
with bright schisms. Sick with phthisis in this driz-
ling mist, I limp, sniffling, spitting bilic spit, itching
livid skin (skin which is tingling with stinging pin-
pricks). I find this frigid drisk dispiriting; still, I fight
its chilling windchill. I climb cliffs, flinching with
skittish instincts. I might slip. I might twist this in-
firm wrist, crippling it, wincing whilst I bind it in its
splint, cringing whilst I gird it in its sling; still, I risk
climbing, sticking with it, striving till I find this rift,
in which I might fit, hiding in it till winds diminish (54).
If not always resulting in beautiful language, the project can be appreciated for the daunting task of adhering to its self-imposed rules, many times resorting to cleverness to accomplish its end result.
Cleverness is also at work in Jen Bervin’s Nets. Its content (a text within the text of Shakespeare’s sonNets), often about the cross-out process that produced it, is an enactment of its own form. Thus, Sonnet 20 is sieved down to “master-mistress of my / shifting / by / adding nothing / prick’d thee out for pleasure” (20); Sonnet 63 to “I am / vanishing or vanished / in these black lines” (63); and Sonnets 134, 135, and 136 to “I / use / the whole, and yet am I not // Will, / Will Will / will / will / will / will / will / Will / Will / will / Will / Will // hold me / to / my name” (134-136).
A project that utilizes the rigors of Eunoia, the range of possibilities within Nets, and that produces a diction as gorgeous as any “inspired” lyrical poetry being written today, is Voyager by Srikanth Reddy. In it, Reddy created three distinct manuscripts of cross-outs utilizing Kurt Waldheim’s memoirs as the primary text. Kurt Waldheim was the Secretary-General of the United Nations until he had to resign under pressure when it was discovered that he had been a high-ranking German officer involved in the Holocaust. His voice, along with that of Carl Sagan, is recorded on the gold-plated record affixed to the spacecraft Voyager I, containing representative samples of the sounds and images of earth and its inhabitants, that continues its almost-eternal journey into outer space, in search of life intelligent enough to be able decipher its message.
The resulting cross-out poems are in three categories: 1) the horrors of war; 2) the voyage of the spacecraft; and 3) the poet himself. Each chapter utilizes a contemporary poetic form, suited to its message. The war poems are a series of double-spaced, seeming non-sequiturs—sentences that develop their own syntax and, hence, meaning. The second section poems take the form of blocked prose poems, telling the story of war. The third section is a series of deconstructed lines spread across the pages with no apparent order, leaving large amounts of white space, echoing the distances between both our individual selves and the particles that comprise the atoms in our bodies. Of course, the three chapters are not airtight, and the themes of war, space exploration, and what it means to be human begin spilling over into one another after a few lines:
Death is a little door in the world.
The star systems pace in perception.
Process. Blind process.
The nature of systems is not becoming clear.
The world is a world.
Overcome all emotion.
Wherever possible alleviate the misery of others.
There is nothing in victory.
The silent alone lie united (16).
In The Book of Forms Lewis Turco concludes that “poetry is the art of language.” He argues that it is the emphasis on language itself—the vehicle or delivery system of content—that distinguishes poetry from other genres ( 4-5). In The Last Two Seconds, Mary Jo Bang dissolves some of this distinction, hearkening back to a day when a story told, information conveyed, and an unfolding argument were as much a part of the poem as (or even more than) the typographical, sonic, or sensory devices employed, producing lines such as these from “Had There Been:”
. . . The shock of that. The shock also of what someone
can become. She said she gardened now. She was surprised
she still remembered that. Blind slats let in an inch or so of sun
times the length of the window. Outside the sigh of a braking bus,
the length of the street times once upon a time. The story began,
“This is the corner where the murder took place” (27).
The forefront of content in the above passage is emblematic of Bang’s blurred-genre text in this book, not only in the relative importance of its complex, sometimes opaque, ideational element often upstaging its quite accessible diction, but also in the nature of the content itself—in this instance, the “inch or so of sun times the length of the window . . . the length of the street times once upon a time.” Although beyond the scope of this essay to illustrate how Bang’s deceptively simple diction is both quite necessary and quite a prodigious achievement, given both the depth and breadth of writings from which almost every poem is gleaned, it bears mentioning that her lengthy notes referencing the works and the sources from which she created her text are as much a part of the manuscript as the poems, reinforcing the relative position of content in the poet’s prosody (77-82).
In the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, Klaatu is an alien come to save the earth by destroying the human race that has abnegated its responsibility of taking care of it. Professor Barnhardt pleads the case for saving humanity: “You say we’re on the brink of destruction and you’re right. But it’s only on the brink that people find the will to change. Only at the precipice do we evolve.”
Mary Jo Bang is not as hopeful about the outcome of history in this collection or in her title poem, “The Last Two Seconds.”
. . . Nothing was neutral.
Lying on her back, looking up at the glass eye, light
furrowed the future. She saw her own inimitable way
of seeing what is missing and sweeping a floor
and setting up a table and winding a timepiece,
and throwing a voice. When she woke, a rash
was making her a manikin spattered with crimson
spatter and drip ripped fabric. And evening collapsed (64).
In The Last Two Seconds Mary Jo Bang finds no solution to stop the inevitable countdown of the doomsday clock, but she does find a language to chime somewhere in the gap between the questions and the answers, as humanity lies on its deathbed.
A full-length collection of sonnets may seem the least likely of books to cite as emblematic of the future of American poetry. However, Rebecca Foust’s Paradise Drive is not your mother’s book of sonnets. Rather, it is a unique blend of form using one imposed constraint (versus the several constraints utilized by Bok, Bervin, and Reddy) of fourteen lines (without the normally concomitant rhythm and rhyme schemes), coupled with source material as voluminous as that brought to Bang’s book, cited in an equally lengthy Note section. Foust’s poems signal a new way of incorporating imagery as diverse as humorous twists on pop culture icons (“Syringes “R” Us”); references to canonical poets like Dickinson (“Pilgrim’s teeth thus far: still in her jaw, and whole. / The better, my dear, to nibble your soul”); St. Augustine in “Another Party, Another Bathroom” (“To Carthage I came / where there sang all around me in my ears / a cauldron of unholy loves”); and gender issues like the vulnerable poem “Prayer for My New Daughter:”
A soul in chrysalis, in first agonized molt,
must choose: LADIES or MENS.
For some—for you—these rooms are fraught,
an open field where lines are drawn: think of
the White-Only signs. Or Serrano’s Piss Christ
and Duchamp’s Fountain, pitted with acid
and icepicks, de-faced. As for restrooms called
“Bathrooms with Urinals,” no, his words
will never deconstruct the master’s house.
For an hour I have walked and prayed,
considering icepicks, how they’re made
to fit a blind hand; how kept so well honed.
You are soft as sown grass and fierce as cut glass.
You pack your new purse with lipstick, and mace.
Some appearing in couplets, some without stanzas, but all with lines that are one-and-a-half spaces apart, typographically these poems are not hammered into Shakespearian or Petrarchan sonnets with strict iambic pentameter and end-rhyme. Instead, they are massaged into twenty-first century American hybrids with the half rhymes and arrhythmic heartbeats of a post post-modern quest for meaning by one Pilgrim relocated from the uncomfortable poverty of Altoona, Pensylvania, to the comfortable poverty of Marin County, California. The form of these poems stretches just enough to incorporate their subject matter without departing from dancing with what brought them (those fourteen lines), in the same way their main character, Pilgrim, adapts to affluent Marin with its updated seven deadly sins, transposing Greed into “…Exercising Noblesse Oblige,” Sloth into “…Just Wanting to Go for a Sail,” and all other sins venial and deadly into our recognizable life styles—if not rich and famous, then striving to be; and if, by chance attaining either, appearing, as the speaker in “Three-Car Garage” (39) to be less:
Flaunting your wealth is in poor taste,
Pilgrim tells her kids. And the natives get
envious. That’s why Fifth Avenue designed
the “subway coat,” discreet black wool lined
with pure mink, farm-raised now, not
like the old days. The Escalade is a sin,
very bad. Pilgrim knows it, but how else
to get all those kids to their match?
Trying her best to mop up the mess
Of carbon footprints, she buys gas
That’s unleaded and coasts downhill.
Solar-heats the pool. Unplugs the deus
ex machine at night. With friends,
the sedan. Alone, it’s the Prius.
In The Great Modern Poets: The Best Poetry of our Times, an anthology of twentieth-century poets, Eavan Boland states “The poem is the place—at least for me—where all kinds of certainties stop. All sorts of beliefs, convictions, certainties get left on that threshold… Simply because the poem is a place of experience and not a place of convictions…” (215).
Contrast this statement with Camille Dungy’s twenty-first century voice that questions experience and bubbles conviction to the surface in these excerpts from “Conspiracy (to breathe together),” chosen by Terrance Hayes for The Best American Poetry 2014:
Last week, a woman smiled at my daughter and I wondered
if she might have been the sort of girl my mother says spat on my aunt
when they were children in Virginia all those acts and laws ago.
Half the time I can’t tell my experiences apart from the ghosts’.
A shirt my mother gave me settles into my chest…
…I wear my daughter the way women other places are taught
to wear their young. Sometimes, when people smile,
I wonder if they think I am being quaintly primitive.
The cloth I wrap her in is brightly patterned, African,
and the baby’s hair manes her alert head in such a way
she has often been compared to an animal.
There is a stroller in the garage, but I don’t want to be taken
as my child’s nanny. (Half the time I know my fears are mine alone.)…
…I walk every day with my daughter and wonder
what is happening in other people’s minds. Half the time
I am filled with terror. Half the time I am full of myself (44-45).
The same could be said of the poetry of the early twenty-first century: half the time the poems are full of experiences; half the time, they are full of themselves—made more capacious by allowing in other genres, pushing against form, creating nonce forms, and enacting their content in ways that draw as much attention to themselves as to what they carry—in ways no one could have imagined a generation ago. Which of these will remain? Which will pass? As with a particle at the quantum level, we can speak of where poetry is, but not with a great deal of precision about the direction it is moving—only that it is changing very rapidly.
The discussion of Mary Jo Bang’s The Last Two Seconds is an excerpt from a slightly different version of the same material previously published in South 85 Journal.
Andrews, Nin. Sleeping With Houdini. Rochester, NY: BOA Editions, Ltd., 2007.
Bang, Mary Jo. The Last Two Seconds. Minneapolis, MN: Graywolf Press, 2015.
Bervin, Jen. Nets. Berkeley, CA: Ugly Duckling Presse, 2004.
Bok, Christian. Eunoia. Toronto, ON: Coach House Books, 2001.
Boully, Jenny. The Body. Londonderry, NH: Slope Editions, 2002.
Dungy, Camille. “Conspiracy (to breathe together).” Best American Poetry 2014. Ed.
Terrance Hayes. New York, NY: Macmillan, 2014.
Greenberg, Arielle. “Arielle Greenberg reviews The Body by Jenny Boully.” Jacket 19 (October 2002): Web.
Hahn, Kimiko. The Artist’s Daughter. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2002.
Hall, Donald. “Introduction.” Best American Poetry 1989. Ed. David Lehman. NewYork, NY: Macmillan, 1989.
Foust, Rebecca Foust. Paradise Drive. Winston-Salem, NC: Press 53, LLC, 2015.
Reddy, Srikanth. Voyager. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2011.
Simic, Charles. “Introduction.” Best American Poetry 1992. Ed. David Lehman. New York, NY: Macmillan, 1992.
Schmidt, Michael, ed. The Great Modern Poets: The Best Poetry of our Times.
Frederick, MD: Quercus, 2009.
Turco, Lewis. The Book of Forms. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2000.
*An earlier version, now unavailable online, was previously published in Café Luna Literary Review.
About the Author:
Terry Lucas is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Dharma Rain (Saint Julian Press, October 2016), and In This Room (CW Books, January 2016). In addition, he is the author of two award-winning poetry chapbooks: Altar Call (San Gabriel Valley Literary Festival, 2013), and If They Have Ears to Hear, winner of the 2012 Copperdome Chapbook contest (Southeast Missouri State University Press). His work has received numerous other awards, including the 2014 Crab Orchard Review Feature Award in Poetry, and five Pushcart Prize nominations. His poems, reviews, and essays have appeared in dozens of national literary journals, including Best New Poets 2012, Green Mountains Review, Great River Review, PoetryFlash, and South 85 Journal. Terry is a guest lecturer for the Dominican University Low-Residency MFA Program; Co-Executive Editor of Trio House Press; and a freelance poetry coach. More about Terry and his work can be found at www.terrylucas.com.