Reb Livingston Reveals Her Poetry Crush

“Poets on Poets” is another new essay series, parallel to the recently launched “Selling Shorts,” only this time, as you’ve probably guessed, I’ve invited poets to talk about their favorite poets. I decided to start with Reb Livingston because she’s a good friend; we’ve done several panels together in the Virginia-Maryland area, and she’s currently celebrating the publication of The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel, a selection of poetry from No Tell Motel, the online poetry journal she co-edits with Molly Arden (and where, as it happens, she’s had the opportunity to publish the poet she’s chosen to write about).

reblivingston.jpgAmy Gerstler is my first poet crush. I don’t say “was” because it’s been almost a decade since I first fell for her and I still go all googly for her poems just like I did the first time. It was 1997, I recently discovered a website called Amazon and suddenly had access to an amazing selection of poetry books that I could browse from my office desk as my boss believed I was hard at work. I ordered with wild abandon, anything that sounded interesting. One of those books was a reprint from Carnegie Mellon’s Classic Contemporary series called Bitter Angel. Gerstler had me at the first line of the first poem, “Siren”:

I have a fish’s tail, so I’m not qualified to love you.

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15 February 2006 | poets on poets |

Michael Drinkard and the (Revolutionary) War at Home

I met Michael Drinkard a few weeks ago at the Old Stone House, the reconstruction of a Revolution-era home where the Battle of Brooklyn was fought in the summer of 1776. It was an apt setting for the book party (organized by his wife, fellow novelist Jill Eisenstadt) celebrating the release of Rebels, Turn Out Your Dead, Drinkard’s first novel in over a decade. It’s the story of a hemp farmer named Salt whose life is completely upended in a violent encounter with a British soldier, and it’s such a major departure from his work in the ’80s and ’90s that I had to ask how the subject matter came to him. He graciously agreed to allow me to reprint the novel’s afterword.

drinkard.jpgMy office is in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, on Wallabout Bay in the East River, just across from Manhattan. A few years ago a security guard pointed to the water and said, “That’s where the British tossed ten thousand dead Americans.” Did I know that during the Revolutionary War more people died on Brooklyn prison ships than in all the battles combined?

No, I did not.

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13 February 2006 | guest authors |

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