Winter Wheat 2015 beckons


It’s a cloudy November day in Akron, OH. What better time to pack up books for next weekend’s Winter Wheat Literary Festival at Bowling Green State University. I’ll be there with tempting titles from the University of Akron Press and Barn Owl Review, and I’ll also have copies of Small Enterprise on hand if you’d like one signed. Hooray for Winter Wheat! Also hooray for countdowns to Winter Wheat, and to Thanksgiving, and to the end of Fall 2015 semester.

Small Enterprise is Born.

IMG_1040After a long day of teaching, I didn’t expect this box on my doorstep, and for a moment I thought I should wait until morning to unbox Small Enterprise, but then realized I’d be up all night wondering what she looked like. I have so much gratitude to Black Lawrence Press, photographer Heidi Thoenen, and many more folks. But for this morning, I just want to share two photos welcoming my 4th book to the world.

A poem from THE CZAR


My well-loved copy of Wuthering Heights.

One of the many works of literature that we riffed on in THE CZAR is Wuthering Heights. I’ve never been one for heavy allusions, but THE CZAR takes tonal cues from a variety of works, as well as making playful attempts at doubling some storylines. That said, the whole writing of THE CZAR was organic, so our allusions were intrinsic to the poems, just like the pop culture intrusions or snippets of technology that made their way into the book. Here’s a poem from the collection, which is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in August 2016.


is a little worried about how much he loves the novel Wuthering Heights. In private, he whispers, “I am ___________” then sends himself to un-heaven. Who is the naughtier child, Catherine or Heathcliff? And why doesn’t the weather in Czarland Heights vacillate like a northern place with moors and hillocks? He can’t say that heaven wouldn’t want him, as he invented the concept. Why did it have to involve heaps of coconut? Why was his movie in black and white, and replete with ringlets, the dogs dead for decades? In a less probable world, the Czar would have also been a Czar. Yes. In a less probable world, though, Edgar wouldn’t have died. And the peasants would have feasted nightly on more than limburger cheese and half-stale crackers. Before the Brontë sisters, he considered books an accelerant. Like his mistress’s faux bridal lace teddy. Or the Lady Czar’s culinary renderings of aimless heft. At night he stares out the castle windows. A low, accusatory moon in the Czar-like sky. Stray cats in an alley and a pail of warm milk. Low water level in the moat. He sips Glenfiddich by the gallon, tells his mistress he will stay up all night until he finds the right word. But he never does.

–Mary Biddinger & Jay Robinson 

Back to Work.

IMG_0886Even though it ended on a high note, with the restoration of the University of Akron Press, I’m glad to kick August to the curb and get back to work. Akron Poetry Prize stuff! Two excellent classes (one world poetry, one an MFA class on first books)! Plenty of student questions to answer! Once again I am taking far too much time writing, revising, and over-honing my syllabi. But what would a new semester be without all that?

In terms of my own poems, I’m still waiting. I can be patient. Last week we got to announce the good news about The Czar, and any day now Small Enterprise will roll off the press. Nothing against the desolation of the marshes and woods, but I rather like being able to talk to people again.

A beginning.

IMG_0397What’s the best way to celebrate the arrival of a new book? Maybe by thinking about the past? Here’s how I welcomed A Sunny Place With Adequate Water. It feels like just yesterday!

In the spirit of nostalgia, here’s a throwback to February 2007, and the birth of Prairie Fever, my first collection.

Contrary to early predictions, July has not been The Month of New Poems. That’s okay, however. It’s bound to happen soon, and when the poems are back, there’s no suppressing them.

I am starting to feel itchy for the new academic year. Itchy, but by no means ready.