Working from home when home is work.

I'm not one for mulling over regrets, but often I wish that I could work happily with background noise. I envy friends who can listen to music while replying to emails (without typing the lyrics into said email, as I would do). Cafes are such energizing places, but I can barely concentrate. I grew up in a very quiet house, and work best in absolute silence. Right now as I type this, I am very aware of the clock ticking in the next room, for example, but at least it's consistent.
Today is rare for me: an entire day to work, hopefully quietly, at home. Zero kid schlepping, no cleaning, minimal laundry, only very slight cooking. I started working at 7:00 am and plan to work straight through until 5:00, with a brief lunch break and some moving around. As I do this, I'm recalling and practicing some strategies that have helped in the past, and I would like to share them with you.
1. Pick out an outfit that feels as much like pajamas as possible (without also feeling depressing…

Return of the page.

If you know me you know that I believe in paper. I annotate student and friend poems longhand. I emblazon papers with notes in green and orange and pink and light blue. I use a paper planner in addition to all my calendar and list apps. I devote a significant amount of my life to editing a book series where paper books are also art. So then why is it so much trouble to write lines for poems down longhand in a notebook? How come I'm not like so many poets who keep journals? Should I be blaming the twitter for this? Blaming myself? 
Over the summer I decided that the first step in getting back to paper was investing in a nice notebook. Green is my favorite color, and I value paper that feels good under a pen, so this one looked right. It also couldn't be too fancy, or else I'd be afraid to use it. It couldn't be too big, or I would come up with excuses for leaving it behind. Ideally, it would have that wholesome book smell when opened. I also hoped to return to my early…

Now let me clear my throat.

Dang, this new year feels new. Like a chill through the sinuses, or a wind that you feel in every seam of your jacket. It's cold and unshakable, but undeniably crisp.

I've accepted the challenge of blogging regularly here at The Word Cage again. I often have much to say, but save it for my students or the twitter.

What a whirlwind of a 2017. The University of Akron Press went to the National Book Awards to cheer on Leslie Harrison's The Book of Endings. Black Lawrence Press accepted my first collection of prose poems, Partial Genius, for publication in 2019. I read many stunning books and worked with brilliant student writers. I finally got around to organizing some parts of my life. I started sending poems out again after an unintentional hiatus.

Rather than setting resolutions, today I'll share two revelations that I've had in the past year, as a writer and a human. Maybe you'll find them helpful, too.

#1: It's okay to stop "customer servicing"…

That's a wrap, fall 2017 edition.

The universe is telling me to go back to sleep today. This doesn't happen often, and I can't do it. But there's something about all the edges being softer for once, or things feeling way less urgent, or the sound of a dog snoring in a chair becoming the exact metronome needed to gather the nerve to drink a little more coffee. Right now my hair looks like it belongs on a witch doll, and maybe the witch doll is me. I'm totally cool with that.

Every semester I'm like wow, what a semester filled with surprises, but this year has changed the calibration on the wow scale, because I certainly was not expecting to cancel a week of class and jet to NYC and celebrate at the National Book Awards. But everything came together as I hoped it would, and though at present my to-do list looks like a gigantic novelty to-do list to be bestowed upon some unlucky sweepstakes winner, I'm going to make it through, even if this particular Sunday is cough and yawn and witch hair and s…


It's a big news day here in Akron, OH, as Black Lawrence Press announced that it has acquired my first collection of prose poems, Partial Genius. This is my seventh full-length book of poems, and my sixth book with BLP, and I am absolutely thrilled. Here's what I had to say about writing this book, which is due out in summer of 2019. A million thanks to BLP, to my friends and students, and to the editors who have published these poems in journals. On writing Partial Genius When writing the chapbook Saint Monica, which became my first collection with Black Lawrence Press, I stumbled upon a form that felt both compelling and expansive. The prose poem in five stanzagraphs made its first appearance with “Saint Monica Composes a Five Paragraph Essay on Girard’s Theory of Triangular Desire.” I wrote this piece with the well-worn essay format in mind as a gimmick, but ultimately felt that each discrete prose chunk forged its own identity while striving to, as they say in composition …

Either // Or

I love it when long weekends or holiday breaks are when I become possessed with reading and can do nothing but. I love it more when long weekends or holiday breaks are when I become possessed with writing poems and can do nothing but. Sometimes the body seems to know what it needs, such as stillness and words on a page that aren't asking for suggestions. Other times it's like hitting a buried water line but that line is filled with words and you invite them to seep up into the grass, to break the pavement open, to saturate the floorboards. Right now, I'm reading. Pretty soon, writing. One, or the other, but for me it's never both.

National Book Awards recap

What an honor to accompany University of Akron Press author Leslie Harrison at the National Book Awards, in recognition of her NBA finalist poetry collectionThe Book of Endings. This was definitely a highlight of my career as editor of the Akron Series in Poetry for the past ten years.

A million thanks to all our readers, and to everyone who cheered us on!