Friends, this update is long overdue. I’m coming to you on the cusp of week eight of the semester, a semester where I am teaching both online and in person + online at the same time. It’s, as they say, a doozy. Little time for writing and sending work out. Dreaming about eventually getting caught up or being able to read a book for fun. Here are a few updates since my last post.
I’m ending the year with a couple of exciting new poetry publications. I have two poems in the 10th anniversary issue of Sugar House Review, and you can find “Terms of Agreement” here, with audio. It’s such a gorgeous and robust print issue, and as someone who often buries her nose in a journal or book, I can say that it also smells divine. Such excellent company in this issue, too.
I am also excited to share two new poems in Black Fork Review, out of Ashland, Ohio. Many thanks to the editors for including these poems.
Finally, I’m counting down to a reading at Literati Bookstore with Matthew Thorburn next month in Ann Arbor, where the two of us were creative writing classmates in undergrad. What a joy to be returning to read from our newest books!
I’m so excited to share the cover of my forthcoming prose poetry collection, Partial Genius, as well as the first blurb, which was written by my poetry hero Heather Derr-Smith. Thank you so much for your support!
I love this book so much. A work of meticulous craft and profound originality, Mary Biddinger’s newest collection of prose poems is one of the best books I’ve read on our historical moment and the decades that led to it. PARTIAL GENIUS reads like a dossier of the psychological landscape of late capitalist America and the end of empire. In the tradition of John Ashbery, but wholly original in her own vision and voice, Biddinger draws from a deep well of poetic intellect and wit to illuminate the existential threats and imaginative possibilities of our collective self-destruction. In “The Subject Pool” the speaker watches a man tattoo AU COURANT around her thigh. The tattoo artist has no idea. Every poem is chock-full of revelations in every detail. Reading this book felt like sitting by the fire in some secret location with a double agent, smoking her pipe telling tales of all that went down right in front of our collective faces, while we were all driven to distraction by outrage. To paraphrase Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, She’s got it all in this book. –Heather Derr-Smith
A new year always feels fresh, and I’m entering this one with a lot of goals. There’s a new poetry collection in the works, and I’ll be teaching two of my favorite classes, both at the undergrad level (advanced poetry writing and writers on writing). This will also be my last semester of a six-year gig as assistant chair and undergraduate advisor in my department, which means that starting in the fall I’ll teach more, spend less time in office hours, and hang out at the Press instead of the advising office. I am looking forward to this, though have a lot of book management to attend to in the meantime (moving them from one office to the next).
This is also the year of Partial Genius, my new collection of prose poems, which is due out in August from Black Lawrence Press. Stay tuned for updates on that, including cover and blurbs in the near future.
The fall 2018 semester had its highs and lows, like all semesters, but there were so many fierce poems and that is what I’ll remember going forward. In 2019 I’m making some changes that will enable me to be more of a writer again, less of a spreadsheet-navigator and email-wrangler, and though it will take some maneuvering I’m thrilled to be following this trajectory.
In addition to finishing a new collection of poems, in the new year I’ll be starting work on a teaching book of prompts. I’m imagining this to be ideal both for classrooms and for independent writers of all levels who might want a new door into poetry. It will be fairly small, handsome, and inexpensive. It will also include some writerly self-care advice; I teach a class that addresses this subject and would like it to be part of the book. More information on the project soon.
Finally, thanks to all of the readers and fellow writers and friends who have made this past year overwhelmingly okay. I’m setting serious goals for the new year. Best wishes to you and your goals, too.
Later in October I’m packing my bags and heading to the College of Charleston for a poetry reading and craft talk about first books of poetry. My biggest piece of advice there: don’t be afraid to take risks in your collection. Growl a little. Show some teeth. Also, the right press and editor are out there, even if your classmates or writing group friends or Twitter frenemies aren’t always sure what to make of your work. I always felt like my intrinsic weirdness was a liability based on what others told me, but it ended up being an advantage instead.
MARY BIDDINGER is the author of five full-length collections of poetry, most recently Small Enterprise (Black Lawrence Press, 2015) and The Czar (with Jay Robinson, Black Lawrence Press, 2016). Her work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Five Points, Green Mountains Review, jubilat, The Laurel Review, and Pleiades, among others. She is the recipient of a 2015 National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowship in poetry, and is currently working on a book-length volume of prose poems. Find her work online in Blackbird, Ampersand Review, Toad, & Thrush.