Once in a while a review helps you understand your own book better, and that is the case for Beth McDermott’s review of Partial Genius for RHINO. I am so grateful for Beth’s insights, and know that I will return to this review in the future when needing encouragement. For a minute I wondered, would it be weird to print out a review and frame it? I may just have to do that with this one.
In case you missed it a few weeks back, here’s my poem “Odd Mysteries” over at Psaltery & Lyre. What an honor to be paired with such a gorgeous photo that matches the poem’s feel and content! Thanks in advance for taking a look.
Even though this is my sixth book, the feeling of unboxing never becomes less exhilarating and terrifying and awesome. Partial Genius arrived along with a number of back to school parcels, on a rainy day, and I’m glad I didn’t know the package would be arriving (I’m a worrier). My first thought upon unboxing was delight with the color of the cover. It’s cheerful and loud, as well as contemplative. I am grateful for the care that Amy Freels took with the cover design and the interior; I think I’ll be able to perform from this book without reading glasses, which is a plus.
Thanks to all who have offered congratulations and shared my excitement about this new book, my first collection exclusively made up of prose poems. Partial Genius is now in stock at Black Lawrence Press, and at SPD, as well. There’s a peek inside feature if you would like to read a few poems before buying a copy for yourself or your best friend or your secret crush.
As we’re excitedly waiting for Partial Genius to drop, I’m happy to share the two items below.
Much gratitude to Tom Simpson for interviewing me about Partial Genius, the writing life, and balancing various hats over at American Microreviews and Interviews.
Here’s a sneak peek:
TS: How do you balance your writing life with your work as an editor and professor? Do you have particular routines and practices that have sustained you?
MB: I have taught college English for over twenty years, and have been an editor for almost as long, and yet I am still struggling with balance. What has helped is learning how I function best, forgiving myself for that, and then finding a way to work with my tendencies instead of against them. I am motivated by deadlines. During the academic year I have little, if any, time for creative writing, so those are fallow spells and I’ve come to terms with them. Over winter and summer breaks I write obsessively. Ideally during the academic year I will revise poems and send them out, but often that task falls to summer.
My work flow is one of constant triage. I jokingly tell friends that I am not a good custodian of my own writing, and it’s true. Helping other people with their poems and manuscripts is often top priority, and more enjoyable than working with my own poems. Perhaps someday I will no longer be scrambling, but for now it’s the scramble that keeps me moving.
I am thrilled that Partial Genius was one of the Must-Read Poetry Books for August 2019 over at The Millions. Thank you to Nick Ripatrazone for thoughts like these:
Biddinger’s prose poems are eccentric, meandering, and surprising. The first poem of the collection, “Historical Achievements,” ends: “One year I wrote ‘mouth’ across my knuckles for Halloween and exited the pep rally before the microphone was switched on, flocks of balloons still humping the plastic bags designated to contain them.” The sentence is pure Biddinger: funny, dizzying yet specific, and grounded in a pleasantly wistful storytelling (her poems don’t often feel melancholy, but they do contain absences—incomplete stories—which offer pauses of sentiment within her play). Partial Genius is unlike any book of poetry that you’ll read this year; a credit to Biddinger’s voice, and the range of her interests.
The countdown to Partial Genius continues!
News flashes times two for this hot June morning.
I am over the moon about having my poem “Heaven and Dirt” published in the new issue of Tupelo Quarterly (15) with such excellent company. This is a recent poem, and I’m thrilled that it found such a fine home.
Also, much gratitude to the editors and fellow contributors of Waxwing XV. I’m honored to have these four poems appear in the issue. “Fantasy Sports” and “History Town” are two prose poems from my forthcoming collection Partial Genius, so this makes me extra excited.
For a year or so I had inexplicable anxiety about sending work out. I am much more comfortable helping other people with their creative work, and really needed to think through my trepidation and take steps to eliminate it. And now that these poems are out, I have no excuses about getting more work into the atmosphere.
In other news, we received a record-breaking total of 687 submissions to the 2018 Akron Poetry Prize competition. You know what I’ll be doing for the next two weeks.