I Would Walk 500 Miles: A Poetry & Community Round Table – curated & introduced by Traci Brimhall

Being a poet in Kansas is a lonely proposition at times. In the fall of 2017, I asked a couple of poets I knew lived in Kansas City, Hadara Bar-Nadav and Jenny Molberg, to have brunch with me. At the end of brunch we said “we should do this again”, and I figured it would be one of those polite things we say but doesn’t happen. 18 months later, the monthly brunches continue and have grown to include other poets from Kansas and Missouri. I asked them to participate in this round table with me to talk about poetry and community: how it’s created, how it’s sustained, what needs it meets and how it could grow. Over the past couple of weeks, members of this community (Hadara Bar-Nadav, Micah Ruelle, Marianne Kunkel, Ruth Williams, Melissa Fite Johnson, Hyejung Kook, Jenny Molberg and Erin Adair-Hodges) met for a “digital brunch” to create this roundtable:


Hadara Bar-Nadav: In what ways does this poetry community offer you something different than other poetry-related communities with which you are affiliated? I’m thinking of how, as an academic, my close-writer friends live all over the country, and I only really get to see them in person at giant conferences, like AWP, or at the occasional reading. How does being physically in shared space with our brunch group impact our meetings? How does being a women-centered and/or non-binary group impact our gatherings?


MR: I love your question, Hadara, and I agree—so many of my own writerly friends live all over. The amount of love, support, and good will I experienced during my first brunch with y’all reminded me of the best sorts of moments that I also experience within my religious communities. I think there’s a great comfort in daily living knowing there’s a community of people who are there and wish well for you. I think being able to meet up (at least) once a month allows for all that good to gain momentum throughout the year.


RW: I like this question too as it makes me think about the way a face-to-face meeting differs from a virtual space of communication. In person, there’s the physicality of one another, the way assembling around a brunch table allows us to see one another furrow our brows, laugh, or even cry. I think about the scientific research into mirror neurons, the way our brains will “mirror” the actions of others as we observe them. I believe some have theorized this as one of the biological mechanisms that produces empathy, an emotion which I feel benefits both the “giver” and “receiver” as they mutually feel connection, a psychological necessity for most. Certainly, I feel like being in face-to-face contact with all of you has definitely given me a sense of solace, of connection, in moments I’ve needed it. Furthermore, given that I identify as a woman, as many of us do, I feel doubly benefited in having access to conversations that allow me to express and engage with the gendered aspects of my identity and to navigate those aspects within a conversation intersected by my “professional” identity as a poet. There’s something very cool to me, as both a feminist and a woman, that I can sit at our table and talk with all of you, not only about writing, but also work/life balance, romantic relationships, motherhood, sexism, teaching, etc. etc.


EAH: Because I came back to writing late, I actually don’t have many writer friends at all, so this experience has been less of a recreation of other connections than its own new, supportive, wondrous thing. It does make me think about how the writing world relies on these connections to support people’s careers and work but that the ways in which these associations are created (MFA/PhD programs, conferences, residencies) are not available to all. Even my inclusion in this group is largely because I went to a conference and got to know one of the Brunch Bunch (gross–let’s not ever use that name). But having said that, I think that’s what’s valuable about a group like this is that because it’s based at least in part on proximity, there’s a kind of egalitarian nature to its structure. The frequency of our meetings also allows for a kind of caretaking, an attending to the seemingly smaller events that comprise the bulk of our lives and which we usually don’t get a chance to chat about at other kinds of writer gatherings. As a newcomer to the area, this has given me some of the emotional support necessary to do all of the other life and writing work, and I’m thankful.


MK: I so appreciate your perspective, Erin, and the reminder that not everyone can train as a writer in graduate school and other formal educational spaces. When I was in my MFA and Ph.D. programs, I always balked at the assumption that my fellow graduate students writers could instantly be my friends; I even made a point to seek out non-academic friends early and often. But now that I’m in my first professorship position, I find myself missing my graduate school cohort. What I didn’t realize at the time is that, even if all we had in common was our creative writing, because my poetry is so central to how I think and move in the world, that commonality was precious. Since brunching with all of you, I’ve had flashbacks to graduate school; what feels familiar is that we all care very deeply about poetry, and that’s comforting as I get older and my respect for this art only grows.


I remember one brunch, where we were all coming together at times of stress and hardship (and we waited for our food for an hour an a half!), where each one of us at some point over the course of the morning, openly cried. There’s something about a powerful group of female and female-identifying poets weeping together over pancakes and eggs that I think wouldn’t often happen in another kind of group. Though some of us didn’t know each other well yet, there was a kind of implicit trust, and it seemed that the “safe space” of the workshop we’ve so often tried to practice with our students and in our graduate programs and conferences just happened with this group of women. We are all in similar positions in our lives, all going through the stress of patriarchal structures in academic jobs, heartbreak, motherhood, and rejection for our writing, and I believe these brunches have allowed us to see each other and be seen in ways we don’t have access to elsewhere. We are also able to share our joys, our acceptances, our accolades, and the writing projects we are excited about without the usual self-consciousness we might experience with people in other fields or places in their lives, and I love how we make efforts to share and publicize each other’s successes. Sharing the female experience amplifies this feeling of a safe space, and I am forever grateful to all of you for the sense of relief and celebration that I experience when we come together.


Micah Ruelle: There was a season in my life prior to moving to Kansas City where I was feeling socially and creatively isolated from writing circles. I’m curious, for those in the group that are accustomed to cultivating inclusive and supportive dynamics in the context of writing communities, what sort of advice you might have for those wanting to find and/or foster a group of their own where they live?


HK: I’m thinking about how I found this group, and it’s because I went to a reading of Jenny Molberg’s last January at The Writers Place. And I went because she had recently accepted a poem of mine for publication in Pleiades and offered some really astute editorial suggestions, so I dragged my sleep-deprived, mother-of-a-baby-and-toddler self to my first reading in years. And within minutes of meeting me she invited me to brunch the next day, which I couldn’t make, but then she invited me to an evening gathering which I could attend, and now here I am.

If I hadn’t decided to aim for a hundred rejections and submitted to Pleiades (and for years I barely sent work out), if I hadn’t been following local events, if I hadn’t gathered my energies enough to attend the reading, if I hadn’t attempted to have a real conversation with a mostly-stranger, who then reached out to me more than once, I wouldn’t be part of this discussion right now. So part of the answer is meeting someone like Jenny, which was sheer good luck, but the part I had something to do with involved the vulnerability of sending my work out into the world, of paying attention to local events, and then the added effort of actually putting myself physically out there. It sounds simple, and such things may come easily to some, but I’ve found it harder to really connect with new people as I’ve grown older, and especially after having kids—I just don’t have the time or energy I once did.


JM: Just to add to what Hyejung said, I think my advice for anyone looking for this kind of group would be to remember that often, many of us who are writers and don’t have the institutional support of a graduate program, are all feeling a bit isolated. Writing is such a solitary act, and seeking out people in your community who may also be experiencing isolation is worth the vulnerable and persistent act of reaching out to people you don’t really know yet, because it is in that act that you can find life-changing friendships, and Hyejung, I’m so glad we found each other.


EAH: I think that’s a valuable takeaway for those of us who achieve some level of privilege in this writing world–a reminder to reach out and ask others in, rather than waiting for them to knock. It’s something I’m trying to be more aware of and sensitive to, and I credit this group for helping create some of that awareness for me.


HK: I’m so glad we found each other, too. I hadn’t realized how starved I was for face-to-face community until I found it. And now I feel moved to reach out to a new friend and invite her to join us at our next brunch.


Marianne Kunkel: I’m the only professor at my university who teaches poetry-writing courses, which means it’s sometimes hard to feel connected to the larger poetry community. Have others felt this creative isolation and what ways, in addition to our brunches, have you found to stay consistently connected and creative?


TB: I have loved our brunches but have also created a small poetry group at my house once a month. It’s usually instructors and graduated grad students who are missing that sense of community, too. I enjoy workshopping in that environment, but it’s also such a great motivator to draft poems, which often falls by the wayside in the middle of a semester.


HB: I am not the only creative writer in my department, but the work of writing is often isolating, of course. I don’t typically share my creative work with colleagues in my department, but rather with writer-friends I have known for many years (including some from when I was still in graduate school). One thing I try to do to stay connected/creative is to bring poems into meetings. I enjoy writing and revising in public–I hear a stray word or a phrase that can kick off a new line, stanza, or direction. When I bring poems into work-related meetings, I might glance at a section I am reworking, or plug in an overheard word. Sometimes, I don’t get a chance to even look at the poems I bring with me; however, knowing they are there keeps me company and is reassuring and grounding.


MR: Oof, Marianne, this question is big! Yes, the isolation feels very real at times. I took a two-year hiatus from academia and worked a full-time office job, which made me feel very out-of-step with other writers and academics. I have yet to really understand why academia remains an uncomfortable space for me. But, no matter what I’m doing for a living, I feel like a poet. Warsan Shire, the poet who wrote the poems behind Beyonce’s “Lemonade,” has a line from “Redemption” that often comforts me: “My grandma said nothing real can be threatened.” So, even when I’m receiving a slough of rejections or a going through a dry spell, I have tried to trust—as much as I can—that poetry won’t suddenly leave my life, if only because it’s one of the most genuine things out there in the world.


Ruth Williams: One of the interesting aspects of our gathering is that we meet at the intersection of the personal and professional/artistic, i.e. We’re not just a group of people who enjoy each other’s company, but a group of poets working at the business of being published writers. However, each of us is at different “stages,” so to speak, in the professional side of our poetry lives (some of us have a series of publications, others a book, others multiple books, some of us are poets in academia, etc.). In what ways has moving among this mixture of poets working in various places/stages of the poetry community shaped how you consider and/or approach the professional aspects of your poetry life?


MFJ: For a long time, I wondered if my path was as “valid” as others’; I’m a high school teacher, not a professor, and while I have an MA in literature and creative writing, I don’t have the MFA or PhD I’d need if I wanted to apply for tenure-track positions at universities. While I am personally fulfilled, both in my work and especially at home, I used to feel intimidated by those I felt had “made it” in ways I hadn’t. It made feeling proud of my accomplishments difficult, and the whole thing left me feeling distanced from the actual act of writing poetry, which I love. These brunches have brought me closer to women I undoubtedly would’ve felt intimidated by if I only knew them by their bios. It’s taught me something that sounds obvious but was a lesson I needed all the same–we are not our bios. We have food allergies and morning cocktail preferences and children (well, some of us–I don’t) and painful romantic histories and similar struggles. It’s ironic that I don’t feel intimidated anymore, even though now I know with more certainty than before how incredible these women are. But learning about the lives behind the poetry has reinforced that there’s no one right path. There’s only finding one that will make each of us happy–for ourselves and for each other.


HK: Melissa, I really feel what you are saying about questioning my writer’s path. I haven’t taught since 2008, and while I did get my MFA, I have yet to submit a chapbook or full-length manuscript, much less have one published. But being part of this group, hearing about how folx have worked on proofs and covers and reading tours for recent and forthcoming collections–Hadara Bar-Nadav’s The New Nudity, Erin Adair-Hodges’ Let’s All Die Happy (UPitt Press), Ruth Williams’s Flatlands (Black Lawrence Press), Marianne Kunkel’s Hillary, Made Up (Stephen F. Austin University Press), Melissa Fite Johnson’s A Crooked Door Cut into the Sky (Paper Nautilus Press), Micah Ruelle’s Failure to Merge (Finishing Line Press), Jenny Molberg’s Refusal (LSU Press), Traci Brimhall’s Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod (Copper Canyon), Hadara Bar-Nadav’s The New Nudity.  I’ve decided to make this the year I put together and submit a manuscript. I also wouldn’t have done my first real reading in ages earlier this month if Marianne hadn’t invited me to read with her. Somehow, while I’ve certainly attended poetry readings in KC, it hadn’t occurred to me that I might read at one. So spending time with this amazing mix of poets has been a learning experience and inspiration for cultivating my own professional and personal poetry life.


HB: Poetry is a humbling art. It comes with rejection–a hell of a lot of it. Being with writers at all stages of their careers reminds me to be humble and also that being at various “stages” of careers does not necessarily align with talent or success or coolness or kindness. What I mean is, more established writers can also be miserable people who write mediocre poems, or not. At the same time, writers early in their careers can be blazingly brilliant and awesome people, or not.

Poetry humbles me, teaches me, as an artist and as a human. Be humble, be supportive, write well, keep it cool. I really value how supportive our brunch community is–personally, professionally, and creatively.


MR: Great observation, Ruth! I think it’s been so delightful to see how different success looks in the lives of each person who joins us. There’s not one way to do things. There’s no deadline. I’m no longer a Christian, but one of my favorite theologians said something really smart in class one day, “The life of Christ is just as unrepeatable as yours.” And I was really struck by that, you know? It’s absurd to compare yourself to anyone because of how unique your life becomes at a certain point. I’ve so enjoyed, too, having so many brilliant minds in one space I can bounce ideas off of, ask for advice, learn from, etc.


MK: It’s reminded me of my options, for one. Just talking with all of you and hearing about your work inspires me to push my poems in new directions. When I recently read with Hyejung, she invited me to read a beautiful two-voice poem with her. This is something I’d never done before, but practicing with her and hearing her vision for the poem opened my eyes to new ways to craft my own poetry. The inspiration is more intense than if I had simply read or heard Hyejung’s poetry. Secondly, moving in this community has shaped the books I assign in my college poetry courses; as powerful as it is for me to meet and talk with all of you, I find equal power in introducing your work to my students. Through the brunches, I’ve been able to invite Hadara and Jenny to my campus for readings (and I hope to invite more of you!). When my undergraduate students met them, they could better envision themselves following the same path–writing for a long time and even applying to a MFA program.


JM: I have also had the good fortune of being able to share the work of my brunch friends with my students and bring them to campus to share their wisdom and experiences with my poetry classes, and I hope to continue to do this with everyone in our group. As the editor of Pleiades, I find so much work that I want to celebrate, and having geographical access to poets like you is such a happy addition to my work as a teacher and editor, when students can read and enjoy the work of regional writers, and then get to meet them! I think one part of the isolation we may experience is the feeling of writing into a vacuum, and one of my favorite parts of being a poet and editor is to have the platform on which to recognize and applaud the important work that other writers are doing–it’s a way of giving back to the community that makes me feel daily humbled and grateful.

Melissa Fite Johnson: Perhaps my favorite aspect of this brunch group is how genuinely supportive and kind everyone is. Just two days ago Hyejung and Marianne had a reading, which many of us (basically everyone within a reasonable driving distance) attended. We applauded and beamed for our friends who read such brave and beautiful work, and as I looked around the room I felt so fortunate to be part of something so special. I know I thrive in this kind of encouraging environment, as opposed to a more competitive one. Both of my Master’s programs evoke memories of making close friends–group study sessions, junk food, venting, celebrating–and I’m often grateful that was the case. What have other writing communities you’ve been part of been like? If you’ve been in more cutthroat programs or circles, did you find that more motivating or silencing?


TB: Ack! I’ve got the FOMO! I was one of the people who didn’t make it (4 hour round trip for me), but I have made it to a couple other events and love our community. I think I’ve been really lucky because most writing communities I’ve been a part of truly have been supportive. The friends I made in grad school still are my friends. I definitely have a competitive side (it’s really bad in both bowling and mini golf), but in writing I feel only in competition with myself. But I will also say there’s support in this group that comes from suggestion and critique. Jenny Molberg gave my new manuscript SUCH a good read with lots of honesty and intellectufal rigor. It really grew from her advice, and that’s a great form of love and support, too.


RW: I’ve been thinking about competition in relation to community and this community in particular, so I’m glad you asked this question, Melissa. I’ve always thought about competitiveness as having two modes: positive and negative. In the negative, competitiveness can foment resentment and can lead one to over-emphasize external validation in ways that often, it seems to me, only frustrate one’s pursuit of achievement. However, I think there’s a positive side of competitiveness, one that serves more to stoke the fires of one’s own ambitions, that leads to a renewed vigor in one’s pursuits. Perhaps, this positive aspect of competitiveness is linked to inspiration, as in: when members of our brunch achieve great things with their poetry, I think less “Dammit, why are you successful and I’m not!” and more “I want to do great things with my poetry too! I need to keep doing the work and stop thinking I can’t do it!” I’ve been lucky to not be in any truly cutthroat writing communities, but I think all writing communities I’ve been in have been filled with people who gauge and measure themselves in relation to their peers. Admitting that I too conduct this kind of measuring with/against feels a bit dicey as it could suggest that I’m either mercenary or shallow, but I believe it’s healthy to admit and embrace the positive side of this competitiveness, to use one’s desire to achieve to stimulate writing, revision, experimentation, etc.


MFJ: Oh, Traci, I get the FOMO all the time! For example, I so wish I could’ve been at your recent reading at UCM; those adorable pictures of you, Jenny, and Erin were everything. But it helps to consider that once upon a time I would’ve been looking at photos of poets I admired but didn’t know. Now that the FOMO is more to do with wishing I could’ve been in that space with people I consider friends–that’s just so much better. Meeting you all has been one of the best parts of moving to Lawrence. Of course, it cuts both ways, as now I get wistful when members of my old workshop group in Pittsburg (which met for fourteen years!) are giving readings and publishing books. So happy for them, but it’s all happening so far away–or, it feels far, anyway. Ruth, I absolutely love what you said about a positive form of competition–feeling inspired by our friends. I’ve been feeling that since moving here. We’re so good at building each other up; I think it’s helping me get better at doing the same for myself.


HK: Thanks so much to everyone who came to the reading I did with Marianne! I felt so supported by the presence of those who attended, by the generous advice on how to make a reading a success (Traci, I did talk about themes and preoccupations of my work as you suggested), and by the messages of encouragement from people who couldn’t make it. Marianne, I’m deeply grateful for your inviting me to read and also practicing and performing the two-voice invention poem with me. Reading with our heads bent toward the single microphone, our arms around each other’s waists, I felt physically and spiritually buoyed. And I’m honored that the experience was inspiring to your own sense of poetic craft.


I’ve been lucky to experience this sort of sustenance before as part of Kundiman, an organization that nurtures writers and readers of Asian American literature. Back when I attended my first Kundiman Retreat in 2009, there were only poetry fellows, but now there are also fiction. The retreats are currently five days long, but all fellows are invited to return for two more retreats, and they do a great job of sustaining the community with a lively list-serv, regional groups that run activities, chances to read at AWP/the Dodge Poetry Festival/Mass Poetry Festival, and more.


Ruth, I really appreciate your distinctions between negative and positive competitiveness in light of our innate tendency to gauge ourselves against others. Comparing ourselves with others is something I think we all do, even if we don’t wish to, and recognizing that impulse and channeling it into inspiration and renewed rigor in our own creative practices is so much better than getting mired in feelings of jealousy or inadequacy. At times po-biz can feel like a zero-sum game—if X wins Y prize, then that means nothing left for me—but it isn’t. We all benefit when we lift each other and each other’s work. I’m reminded of this brief, searing poem by Sean Thomas Dougherty, “Why Bother:”

Because right now there is   someone

Out there with

a wound               in the exact shape

of your words.


EAH: I feel like all of these responses are so thoughtful and nuanced there may be no other place to take it, and yet here I go. Candidly, I had less than a fully positive experience in my MFA program, and it resulted in me not writing for about 8 years afterwards. It was long enough ago that I feel compassion for all involved (and acknowledge my own responsibility in this), but I do wish I’d felt more supported, more “seen.” I also realize that I recreated some of that behavior that was modeled and so ultimately felt pretty disillusioned by what I saw of the poetry world. I knew very little of how it all worked, and what I was given to see was not a life I wanted to live.


In truth, I still see a lot of what turned me off “out there” in poetry land, which is what makes me feel even more thankful for nurturing spaces like this which seem to have at their heart a more holistic approach to writerly friendships. To what Melissa has said, I agree that the opportunities to get to know each other make it so much more difficult to feel jealousy, and I truly wish we could ask for a little bit more transparency in how the poetry sausage gets made. I’d love to see bios that include failures or obstacles, interviews that admit doubt. It can all seem like this impenetrable club when you’re outside of it, which does work to silence many before they even get started. Some demystifying of how we got here, sometimes despite everything, I think could actually go a long way in creating and sustaining community.


HK: Erin, it’s horrible that a space that should have strengthened your voice ended up stifling it instead. I think your call for transparency is so important, and thinking about the possibility of the bio as being more than a list of accomplishments and pursuits, of allowing personal vulnerability and aspects of the struggle to write is really significant. I’ve always used a short professional bio with publications, referring to earlier issues of each journal to see how the bios read and tailoring to fit better. I hadn’t considered before how my “standard” bio represents in miniature form the pressure toward conformity and the professionalization of writing, of worth weighed by publications, awards, etc. It’s such a polished, curated presentation of self, and to echo what Melissa said earlier, I’ve certainly felt rather unaccomplished after reading other people’s bios. I would rather someone feel heartened, and sharing some of the rough edges of ourselves and our journeys sounds like a simple yet meaningful way to do it.


MK: I’ll echo Erin’s sentiments that, while my Ph.D. experience was wonderful, my MFA experience was difficult. Part of the problem, I guess, is that I was different than my fellow graduate students–I was only 21, newly married, and from Alabama, so a lot of assumptions were made (someone roasted me at my first reading there by saying, “Married people don’t write poetry.”). Now I could handle that criticism, but being so young it really confused me. I’ve felt only the opposite at our brunches; there seems to be an unspoken respect for the differences in our writing, our lives, and our worldviews, and for this I thank Traci, Hadara, and Jenny who started the brunches and no doubt set the vibe. In any writing community, if they wish to support each other, I believe it has to be deliberate. We can’t assume that writers naturally want or know how to support each other. I wish more graduate students were encouraged toward this, but it would require letting go of the belief that negative (and I would say patriarchal) energy can motivate writers. I survived that MFA program by finding a mentor in my professor Sidney Wade; her acceptance of me and my poetry allowed me to thrive.


JM: Yes, these responses are so thoughtful, I don’t feel that there’s too much to add except this: I found, especially in my PhD program (which was a thriving, inspirational environment) that I never really “got” why we often feel so competitive with each other. Sometimes, there is not “space” for every voice, and I think we ought to think of the poetry community at large as a collective resistance against forces in this world that are mean, power-hungry, and silencing. In those cases, I think we have to make way for the voices that do, at that point in time, need to be heard, and in those times, it is our role to celebrate and make room for them, with whatever power we might have. Poetry, I think, is a collective effort, and I love the ways in which this brunch group reinforces that idea.


Hyejung Kook: Have you been part of online communities that have shaped or supported your writing? Maybe it was an online workshop, taking part in a writing challenge, a FB group, or something else. What do you think is essential for an online space to foster a sense of community?


HB: Cool question. I don’t have a formal online writing group but I do have a few kind writer-friends I sometimes swap poems with via email. And we are fast! I mean, I send a poem, and I often get a response within 2-3 days, or even sometimes a few hours. I LOVE the generous-heartedness of this, that my dear friends make our poem exchanges such a high priority. It’s like we are in the same room suddenly through our poems. And I know how goddamn busy we all are, and still, our poems cut through all the bs. So I’d say responsiveness is a key quality for an online community/exchange and also being willing to give in return.


MFJ: I’m part of a Facebook group called Publication Blitz. We began a few years ago with the goal of sending poems out every day for a month, usually in June and December. I believe we started up around the same time that article “Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year” came out, and we all adopted a “Why not?” attitude that made us much bolder than we usually were. We haven’t officially “blitzed” in a while–now we largely ask each other for advice and provide support–but in the beginning we reported where and when we were sending work out each day, as well as who rejected and accepted us. We’d all post some version of “hooray” or “boo” each time we shared news with each other, and that group really motivated me to send work out. Part of the reason we don’t have formal blitzes anymore is that we’ve all made submitting part of our lives now in ways we hadn’t before. I can actually get angry with myself for waiting so long to publish; I began writing poetry seriously in 2002 and didn’t regularly submit work until 2014. Largely, it was because I downplayed what I was doing. I referred to it as a hobby, even in my bio, for a long time. I’m grateful to that Fb group for showing me that taking risks is necessary and fun–for taking the fear out of putting myself out there and taking myself more seriously.


JM: For me, Facebook and Twitter can be spaces in which I discover poets I didn’t know before, and though I often fall into a social media trap that becomes a time-suck, I do appreciate the online spaces I share with other poets, especially those safe spaces that work to support women and non-binary poets, who are often experiencing the stress of a kind of silencing that others do not. I also love the ways in which the internet (like this “digital brunch”!) allows us to come together when we do not have time. Bridget Lowe, mother to a new baby and a toddler, and I have been able to chat online and in texts when we are not able to see each other often enough, and the internet has allowed us to work together on Pleiades Press when we are not able to meet in person–Bridget currently serves as Assistant Director to the press, and has done so much important work for the books we’re publishing. She recently dropped a book off at my house when we couldn’t find the time to meet together, and it was by a poet whom she knew I’d love who I hadn’t yet encountered–thank you Bridget! (The book is shattered sonnets love cards and other off and back handed importunities by Olena Kalytiak Davis, and it blew me away.) I love the ways in which technology serves to bring us together when real-life schedules won’t allow it.




Traci Brimhall is the author of three collections of poetry: Saudade (Copper Canyon Press), Our Lady of the Ruins (W.W. Norton), and Rookery (Southern Illinois University Press). Her next collection, a hybrid of essays and poems, Come the Slumberless from the Land of Nod is forthcoming from Copper Canyon in 2020. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, Slate, The Believer, The New Republic, Orion, and Best American Poetry 2013 & 2014.  She’s received a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and is currently an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Kansas State University.