Editor’s Honorable Mention, TQ2 Prose Open
I always thought, if I was lucky enough to be hired by a university—to be offered one of those elusive tenure-track jobs—my contract would say POET. The word would glow on the page, embossed and raised. It would gleam like the lone title on an old-fashioned movie marquee.
I am a poet first, I think. (I thought.) A priori.
I am lucky. Some have the luck of the Irish. I have the luck of the Poet. I thank my lucky stars.
This year I was hired by a university in sunny Miami. I was offered one of those elusive tenure-track jobs. The word POET does not appear anywhere on my contract. I am an Assistant Professor of English with a specialization in Creative Nonfiction.
I have been hired to teach my second language. I speak it fluently, I think. (I thought.) Still, a student stops me in the hall.
“You’re a poet, right?”
“How did you know?”
“You can just tell,” she says. “I can tell.”
She has the shiny, black eyes of an owl, if owls wore a lot of mascara.
“I don’t think a novelist would wear a shirt like that.”
Apparently, I also have the shirts of a Poet.
I teach at a university with two Very Famous Poets. It is a strange thing to have come of age reading their poems, poems that bloom inside me like flowers inside globes. Have you seen those? They are so beautiful—irises and zinnias under glass.
The poem is the flower, of course. Prose the paperweight.
Now I sit across from these Very Famous Poets in meetings. They speak to me like I belong. They listen as I respond. Sometimes, I find I cannot stop blushing in their presence.
The poem is the pink heat, of course. Prose is the cheek.
It takes two weeks before my intro students admit they have no idea what I mean by PROSE.
“Do you mean like—pros and cons?” the shy boy in the back row asks.
“No,” I smile. “Not PROS—PROSE,” adding the “E” with a blue dry-erase marker. “See—it has a rose in it.” (Is Poetry the rose?)
“So when you say we have to submit a work of prose—”
“I mean, a short story or a personal essay.” I cringe as I feel the phrase coming, cresting the hill of my tongue. “For the first workshop, you will submit a poem and something that is not a poem—a work of prose.”
And here we are, stalled out in Binary Station.
My first publication was a poem. It marked the beginning, I thought, of my public life as a poet. A Very Famous Poet whose work I admire chose my poem as the winner of a prize.
I was so lucky. I was poet-lucky. I thanked my lucky stars.
Technically, though, my first published poem was a “prose-poem.” Notice how we never say this the other way around—a “poem-prose.”
The phrase falls awkwardly on the ear, so we dismiss it. This is our poetic prerogative—to lead by sound.
Perhaps this is what makes a prose-poem more poem than prose. (Perhaps.)
My small block of text, with its close attention to sound, its close inspection of language itself, would never have been published as prose. It would not have qualified as a “short story” or a “personal essay.” There were no characters; there was no plot; my text was lacking a reflective narrative centered in self-discovery and growth.
In other words, it was more poem than prose. See, I’ll show you:
Little letter I could not love. Vowel & consonant, chromosome & question. How frugal & elusive you have been! Always the middleman: xyz, xyz, never the workers or the bourgeoisie. Also the musicman: xylophone & lyre. At times I find your histrionics almost unbearable—a new age of womyn & wyne. Too haughty for the twenty-fifth place, you stand like V on a stilt, on a pedestal stair, touting your yowling message. Inverted tripod. Impotent slingshot. (David’s one-time triumphant tool.) And what a spy you are, your cunning infiltrations: dys-trophy, dys-functional, dys-phoria. How could I ever catch you? Stealthy somnambulist, chameleon of stick limbs & curlicues. You reduce nouns to improper adjectives with these easy recipes: smirk-y, pith-y, weight-y, greed-y. Lad into lady. That’s your fix, your sing-song-y resonance. Usurper of the second person. Pseudonym for stranger. You & yours assaulting me & mine through triangle lips split open. Isosceles. Take your tuning-fork face & turn it into the light. Make your inquiry, outspoken & asinine. Yawn, yang, yammer. An active force in the universe. Tell me I’m boring you. Call me yellow. Tempt me with yams, sweetened to marshmallow pudding. Or come in second: axis, coordinate, unknown quantity. Occasionally, impressed with your arrogance, I’ve let you yo-yo me—lift up my skirts, my songs, buoy me again in the wrong direction. Invention: the crafty voice in the back of the head, making suggestions. Or the picture on the grade school wall, building associations. Y is for yak, a long-haired, humped Tibetan ox, & you who are never what you are.
If a prose-poem cannot win a PROSE contest, but the same prose-poem can win a POETRY contest, what is this fact but another form of identity politics?
I am a poet. I am also a lesbian. These are two irrefutable truths about me.
Some would save space and call me a lesbian poet. (No one has ever called me a poet lesbian.)
What is the relationship between these words? I wonder.
They are neither synonyms nor antonyms. One is neither the cause, nor the effect, of the other.
An old joke: If you’re a poet, where’s your license?
Think of the SATs I have taken, think of the GREs. I have been trained to think in analogies.
I like the double colon better than the equals sign. It suggests that relationships can mirror each other without being equivalent.
:: I was always a better student in language arts than math.
~Notwithstanding, I did have a fondness for story problems.
~ All story problems are not classes, but all classes are story problems.
Back at Binary Station, the students linger on the platform, equal parts earnestness and ennui.
“So, you’re saying a poem is that which is not prose, and prose is that which is not poem?” (God bless and curse at once my philosophy major.)
No, I’m not saying that. The language forced me into it. The language is fond of boxes.
“You’re saying they’re mutually exclusive?” he asks again, the philosopher in the ratty, plaid hoodie.
A train is speeding through the station now. The train’s name is printed in bold, black letters:
T A U T O L O G Y.
In other words, no matter what I say, I will be right in some sense, and wrong in another.
I think I write poems because I cannot tell the whole story. I think I write prose because I want to.
All aboard! the conductor calls.
A train track is 300 miles long. On one end of the track, Train A leaves the station at 4 PM. On the opposite end of the track, Train B leaves at 6 PM. If Train A travels 45 miles per hour and Train B travels 60 miles per hour, when will they meet?
My lack of interest in the correct answer to this question assures me I am not a mathematician. But— I have other questions.
The poet in me wishes to feel the train in motion, to sample a meal in the dining car, to glimpse the scenery from a small compartment window. I may also wish to compare this motion, this meal, this scenery with other kinds.
The prose writer in me wishes to know the passengers’ names and what weather they are dressed for and if there are lovers on board who will be reconciled at some undetermined hour.
Nota bene: Story problems involving time, distance, and speed can be hard to solve because they involve multiple variables.
Earlier, I proposed the following analogy:
What I wish to consider: If this is true, how is it true? (Now I sound like a philosophy major.)
1. Lesbian and poetry represent categories that deviate from standard expectations, while heterosexual and prose represent categorical norms.
1A. More people than not are heterosexuals.
1B. More writing than not is prose.
A Poet-Question: Why is poetry so comparatively rare? (And lesbians, for that matter?)
2. Lesbian and poetry specify categories that are not valued in the same way or to the same degree as the categories heterosexual and prose.
2A. The former are less lucrative, in all respects.
2B. The latter are less controversial, in all respects.
A Lesbian-Question: Why is a heterosexual life never referred to as a “heterosexual lifestyle”?
3. To announce oneself as a lesbian or a text as a poem will result in raised eyebrows.
3A. Eyebrows may be raised for many reasons, including curiosity, contempt, both, or neither. But eyebrows inevitably arch in the presence of these words. There is something (almost) (always) dangerous about them.
3B. Heterosexuality and prose do not require an announcement of any kind. They are assumed. Even when they are not understood, they are assumed to be understood because they are expected to be ordinary.
A Poet-Lesbian-Question: Why am I (almost) (always) drawn to marginal forms?
The passengers grow restless on Tautology Express. I hear my own voice struggling to overcome the static on the PA system:
“I don’t want to say there are no differences between poetry and prose. But I don’t want
you to mistake them for simple opposites either. They have much in common. Often, they
overlap. They are more like friends than rivals. In the best cases, they are allies. But even
you and your best friend have perspectives that diverge, priorities that divide you, desires that
perforate your otherwise symmetrical seams. If you and your friend witnessed the same event, would
you give identical accounts of what happened? Poetry and prose are two ways of witnessing the
same event—the event of life, let’s say, the event of being in the world. These accounts may dovetail
with each other, but they will never read, nor should they read, the same.”
In the multi-genre class, we are preparing for our first workshop now. A challenge I have noted in providing feedback to others is how to be precise about what we mean.
“One of the most popular descriptors I’ve encountered in your peer responses is the word poetic,” I say. “A lot of people are telling each other, This is very poetic. I see the phrase written beside particular lines of poetry and alongside whole passages of prose. But what do we mean when we call something poetic? Is it a compliment? And if so, what kind of compliment?”
The girl with the bright owl-eyes perches in the front row. “It’s a positive thing for sure,” she says. “It means the writing is beautiful.”
“But what does beautiful mean? Aren’t there many ways to be beautiful?”
“Lyrical,” another girl clarifies. Before I can intercept this word, she passes it to a classmate, a friend who says “Musical, melodious, rhythmical.”
“So, you’re telling me that poetic means the writer is paying particular attention to sound, to the intricacies of the language?”
They nod as one head—their beautiful, rhythmical faces.
Now a hand shoots up in my periphery like a blade of grass. He has a crew cut and a trapper keeper, like he is from another time.
“If poetic is the word for when something is like a poem—musical and all that—what’s the word for when something is like prose?”
“Does anyone know?”
They shake their serious heads.
“Prosaic,” I say. “But I’m not sure this word is terribly useful to us. It sets up an unpleasant antagonism between what is poetic and what is not—a false hierarchy. Instead, we could ask, What are the qualities of prose that make it valuable? What are the pros of prose?”
I laugh a little at my own word play, but my redirection is no match for the iPhones in the room. I have trained my students to look up words they don’t recognize, and all at once, a new chorus of voices resounds.
“The dictionary says prosaic means dull, unimaginative.”
“Mine says commonplace and unromantic.”
“Lacking poetic beauty.”
I think of my contract a moment, of a phantom clause: You have been hired to teach unbeautiful writing. You are a specialist in unbeautiful words.
“Did anyone find a more neutral definition?” I ask.
The philosophy major: “Having the style and diction of prose,” he says, but there is a sullen note in his tone.
By way of analogy:
“So you’re gay!” a new acquaintance exclaims after I explain I have a partner, not a husband.
I nod and press a second button on the antiquated elevator. Never fond of boxes, I take some small comfort in the fact that this one moves.
“That must be so exciting!” she sighs. “I can’t imagine...me with my boring little life.”
I force a smile and look away. Her eyes continue to sweep over me—eagerly, curiously. She means no harm, yet there is something of the voyeur about her. I am certain I saw her eyebrows rise.
“It’s just an ordinary life,” I say as the doors slide back to let me pass. “No more or less ordinary than yours.”
Let’s try this:
There are two trains, P1 and P2, running on parallel tracks toward a common destination. We might call this, for the sake of a name, Literary Junction. One question to consider is the importance of the destination at large—what must all trains accomplish if they are to succeed in their course?
The transportation of passengers from one place to another.
I suggest all readers are passengers. I submit transporting us from one place to another is what all good literature does.
A further question to consider is how we recognize the trains when we see them from a distance. Before I have even heard the whistle, what reasonable estimates can I make about the platform on which I should stand?
“Are you asking how we recognize a poem, the visual cues that distinguish it from a work of prose?”
(Gratitude for the young anthropologist with her keen, studied speech, the pencil perennially stashed in her hair.)
“Yes. That is what I’m asking, exactly.”
“I thought poems were written in stanzas and prose was written in paragraphs.” (Binary.)
“But what about those big, bulky poems that look like a paragraph someone forgot to indent?” (Devil’s advocate.)
“That’s a prose-poem. It isn’t exactly the same. It looks like prose but moves like poetry. It’s a mixed text.” (Bitextual?)
“I don’t know what you’re all so worried about. If I don’t know what it is, I just look up the genre. It’s usually printed somewhere—in a header or an index or on the back cover of the book. Nobody publishes anything as unmarked territory.” (Notice how we only travel to places with names.)
“So, are you telling me that there is nothing intrinsic about a poem’s poem-ness, or the prosiness of a work of prose? The designation is the thing that makes it so?”
The philosophy major, calling my bluff, blowing the whistle on the whole charade: “Well, there’s nothing intrinsically Evan about me, but that’s the name I answer to.”
An old joke: You’re a poet, and you didn’t even know it.
Can the same be said of a poem, a work of prose? Could anyone or anything be something without knowing that was what they were?
Or worse—was it possible we really were nothing without names?
This was getting downright Biblical, I thought. (I think.) Were we all amorphous creatures until some Adam at a lit mag or a publishing house notarized and particularized us into a certain kind of existence, a social genre?
To name, of course, is also to stratify.
I ask my students, “Can there be a poem that doesn’t look like a poem? What about a story that doesn’t resemble any story you’ve ever seen before?”
“Is the text disguised for some reason, intentionally misleading?”
“No, let’s say it just doesn’t announce itself in conventional fashion.”
A pensive student with a head scarf answers. “I think, at the end of the day, the text has to reveal itself and how it wants to be read. The reader can guess, but she can’t know for sure without confirmation from the text—which really means the author.” (Contract with the reader.)
God the Author said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water” (alt. poem from prose). So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault sky (alt. poem). And God the Author said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land” (alt. prose-poems), and the gathered waters he called “seas” (alt. prose). And God the Author saw that it was good.
Earlier, I proposed the following analogy:
What I wish to consider: the question of visibility.
For instance, if there is a poem that doesn’t look like a poem, who is to blame? Should the poem be absorbed into the canon of prose because it has failed to distinguish itself as something other?
Or perhaps the standards for how we recognize a poem should change. Are the boundaries arbitrary in some sense? Are the limits oppressively narrow?
My poems don’t always look like poems. I don’t always look like a lesbian. Two irrefutable truths.
I have some sense of the form each entity (identity) is supposed to take.
I suspect there is some desire for subversion in the way I make a poem and in the way I make myself. This may be more conscious at some times than others.
The broadest meaning of a poem, poïesis, is “to make.” There is no designation in the ancient Greek for how this making must occur or for the shape the final poem must assume.
When I called my mother to tell her I love a woman, she screeched like a bird: “This explains why you don’t wear make-up!”
Apparently, I have the shirts of a Poet, and the bare face of a Lesbian. I have marked myself unwittingly, I think. (I thought.) I have even marked myself, in some sense, by what I am missing.
When I called my friend to tell her I love a woman, she wept like Mary kneeling before the cross: “Your love can never make a baby!”
I ask again: Are the boundaries arbitrary in some sense? Are the limits oppressively narrow?
As you go about your daily routine over the next few days, begin to pay attention to places where you notice poetry or what you recognize as poetic language. Sometimes I find poetry in unexpected places: a Facebook post by someone I hardly know, a brochure I pick up while waiting in line, notes on bulletin boards, bathroom stall graffiti. Please bring with you to class at least 2 examples of what we might call “found poems.” (If you can’t bring the poetic text with you in its original form, type it up and bring a hard copy that you can share.) Remember that what makes these poems “found poems” is that they are not labeled explicitly as such. You as their reader discovered them in a non-poetic context; you found them and recognized something about them that led you to believe they were poems.
By way of analogy:
“Oh, I’ve always thought you were gay,” Sophia says. She is the ex-girlfriend of my ex-boyfriend, who we both are certain is gay.
“What makes you think so?” We smoke clove cigarettes at a coffee shop in Eugene, Oregon—both of us poets invested in appearing so.
“It’s a vibe,” she shrugs. “It’s the way you move, and the way you sound, but not one thing only—a lot of things together that form a gestalt.” (Sophia, for the record, is also a psychology major.)
“A gestalt of gayness?”
She shrugs again. “Why not?”
“Well, I mean, I’ve only dated guys, so I’m pretty sure I’m straight. Do you think my vibe could be bisexual?” (Prose-poem?)
Sophia tosses back a dark espresso, cringes as the sludge slides down her throat. Poets drink espresso, right? Finally, after a long pause (caesura)—                     “Yeah, I don’t see it.”
“But what is there to see?” My mouth is frothy with cappuccino foam. Poets drink cappuccino, right? Then, revising (backpedaling?): “Anyway, the heart is like a pendulum. It always swings both ways.”
We’re poets after all, self-professed. We like to speak in similes.
“But the body’s a revolving door,” she says. “It always comes back around to one lobby.”
Metaphor: the ultimate one-upmanship.
My students find poetry everywhere—grocery lists, menus, instruction manuals. Poetry hovers in the air—overheard conversations, natural sounds mingling with human voices. Snippets of the world whirring past, glimpsed as if from a small compartment window:
Two hummingbirds at a feeder and today’s pages done.
I stopped and helped her on over to the other side and she hissed,
even from inside her shell. Good for her.
yellow tomato: “Now that tastes real, for a change.”
“We should do this with prose!” a zealous boy exclaims, scratching his lightly stubbled chin.
“You can’t, Silly!” his girlfriend chides. “Prose doesn’t get lost, so why would we need to find it?”
I am a poet first, I think. (I thought.) A priori.
But I was wrong. No one is a poet first. You can be a poet next and last and best. It can become the truest thing about you—irrefutable.
But prose is always the first language.
We have gathered in the dining car to sample a meal of chips, soda, and someone’s roommate’s hand-dipped, chocolate-covered oranges. “They’re really good, I promise,” she tells the class.
“So the found poem surprises us because it pops up someplace it isn’t supposed to be—or at least someplace it isn’t expected to be?” I begin.
“Like a weed.”
“Or a flower.”
Cue the dueling similes.
“Do we need poetry?” I ask my students after a while. “What purpose does it serve if most everything we say and read and write is prose?”
They are quiet—contemplative perhaps, or merely tired.
Finally, a freckled English major raises his hand, wipes his mouth, and volunteers. “Our textbook talks a lot about patterns, but Sellers says you have to break them sometimes, or the writing becomes predictable. Poems break the rules of prose, you know. They change the game, or shift the focus. They’re disruptive—but in a good way.”
Now the anthropologist: “The prose-poem kind of seems like an oxymoron to me, you know? Because there’s a lot of poetry in prose anyway, and vice versa. All the poems we found were just embedded in some larger context we’d call prose. And who was that guy who said the thing about Always be a poet, even in prose?”
“Baudelaire,” I smile.
“Yeah, him. That’s what the prose-poets are doing already, consciously, and what the found poets are doing unconsciously.”
Now the philosopher: “I’m not disagreeing with you exactly, but we can’t be naïve about this either.” He suddenly seems very old for nineteen, but his fingers twisting the strings of the ratty, plaid hoodie are notably young.
“What seems naïve to you, Evan?”
“Well, you know how you’re always passing around that magazine, Poets & Writers? It might be redundant in some ways, but the whole publishing industry obviously thinks there’s a distinction. I mean, if there weren’t, wouldn’t the magazine just be called Writers?”
“But poets are writers,” the girl with the headscarf objects.
“Sure, but when we hear the word writer, we think prose. It’s automatic. We probably don’t even realize we’re doing it, but if someone says to me, ‘I’m a writer,’ I think he means he writes novels or stories or maybe memoir or something. He might even be a journalist. But for some reason, I’m not going to expect him to be a poet unless he says, ‘Hey man, I’m a poet.’” (Or wears the shirts of a Poet.)
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.
“Good fences make good neighbors.”
By way of analogy:
My friend sends me a letter while I am studying overseas. She is cryptic, and I suspect she
has written instead of phoned because she wants my response to come slowly, if at all.
I can picture you traveling by train all across the United Kingdom. I’m a little jealous, actually, of your
freedom, even though I know it is only yours for a short time. I’m curious too about the girl you’ve
mentioned in your correspondence. The way you describe her makes her sound like more than friend. (I’m
sure I’m just imagining things here, but you never write any more about what’s happening with you and
I’ve made some decisions since graduating in winter term. N. and I will move to California this summer where I plan to teach and establish residency. Then, I’ll go for my Master’s degree in creative writing. All the applications ask you to specify your genre, and while I know you think of me as a poet because of all the poems we’ve exchanged over the years, I have decided to become a fiction writer and apply in prose. Unfortunately, poetry isn’t practical as part of a career. It’s a lovely idea, of course, but most poems end up in shoeboxes under a bed somewhere, and I want to have a real life as a writer.
I hope this doesn’t disappoint you too much. I would never want to do anything to dampen your dreams, but it is important to think realistically about the future.
P.S. We have set a date for the wedding, and we would like it very much if you could read a poem for us.
I collect my students’ final genre consideration papers. Climbing into my car, I think nostalgically of trains—of reading while someone else navigates the tracks.
When I get home, I begin to leaf through the papers, noting moments of insight, thoughtful inquiries.
I think I am a poet because of my long love affair with questions. I think I am a writer of prose because of my deep infatuation with answers.
Previously, I thought poetry was a work in which words rhymed, the lines were compressed, and it was limited to a way of telling someone how you felt. But now I understand that poetry is so much more than that; it’s not only a way to express your emotions, but a way to tell a story, a way to transform something devastating or ugly and turn it into something beautiful. Poetry is more about the words than it is the rhythm, in my opinion. A rhythmic flow lets the reader know they are reading poetry, but the words let the reader know the story or the reason you are writing the poem.
What makes poetry different from other genres is its rhythm. Whether it is apparent or subtle, poetry has a music that drives the words. Similar to lyrics in a song, poetry can be read melodically. The prose poem is something I was not too familiar with before taking this class, but I am now interested in writing a few of my own. Like I mentioned before, I find that prose poetry differs from regular prose because of its rhythmic sound. On the surface, it can be quite difficult to differentiate the two, but upon further investigation, it is clear that the prose poem, like a poem, carries that subtle rhythmic sound.
What was also so interesting to learn is that poems and prose could sometimes intertwine and hide
within each other, making it almost impossible to tell which is which.
One student leaves me a notecard tucked in his pocket folder. “I found this definition in an online dictionary,” he writes. “I know you want us to do our own thinking about this, but I still liked what the dictionary had to say.”
Poem: A piece of writing that partakes of the nature of both speech and song, and that is usually rhythmical
Earlier, I proposed the following analogy:
What I wish to consider: the question of hybridity.
4. The categories lesbian and poetry partake of the categories heterosexual and prose in that they require the existence of these categories in order to differentiate from them.
4A. A lesbian begins life as a de facto heterosexual, then blossoms divergently.
4B. A poem begins life as de facto prose, then blossoms divergently.
Both of these, flowers inside globes.
5. The lesbian and the poem are, by nature or necessity or some combination of the two, experimental beings.
5A. Given the heterosexual imperative, there are very few Gold Stars.
5B. Given the prose imperative, there are very few poets who have not also written a paragraph.
By contrast, a great many heterosexuals and prose writers have not explored another genre.
6. The lesbian and the poem are manifestations of multiple languages, or perhaps multiple versions of the same language.
6A. The lesbian descends from heterosexuals; they are part of her ancestry, as she is part of their lineage.
6B. The poem draws words, sounds, and images from the same unfathomable well as prose.
Not opposites then, not even analogies. What would we call this—symbiosis?
Nota bene: At the end of the day, I am a lesbian. I am a poet. I am a lesbian poet, or a poet lesbian. During the day, some days, I write prose. Some days, I go to the movies and weep when the boy loses the girl and when the boy finds her again. I understand that love crosses genres. I move in a world populated by prose and heterosexuals. I understand these forms predominate, but they are not less or more than my own. I am born of heterosexuals, after all. They are in me, I am of them, the way prose is in me, too, and I am fashioned out of prose. At the end of the day, I am a found poem.
Now a Very Famous Poet comes to my door. She brings me volumes of her words, a gift, an offering: poems and prose-poems. Further evidence of my outstanding inheritance.
In one book, she has written,
For Julie—the woman with two genres! With deep admiration for your poems and nonfiction!!
I am so lucky. I am poet-lucky. I thank my Lucky Star.
*Gratitude to Karen Salyer McElmurray for the sample found poems; to Heather Sellers for her excellent textbook, The Practice of Creative Writing: A Guide for Students; to my own students—Dwight Tracey, Jr., Stephanie Diaz, and Crystal Falloon—for granting permission for me to share excerpts from their thoughtful work; and to Denise Duhamel, a VFP of incomparable generosity.
**“Y” was selected by Albert Goldbarth as a winner of the 2004 Chicago Literary Award in Poetry. This prose-poem appears in Another Chicago Magazine, 44 +45, Spring 2005.
Julie Marie Wade is the author of Wishbone: A Memoir in Fractures (Colgate University Press, 2010), Without: Poems (Finishing Line Press, 2010), Small Fires: Essays (Sarabande Books, 2011), Postage Due: Poems & Prose Poems (White Pine Press, 2013), and Tremolo: An Essay (Bloom Books, 2013). Her forthcoming collection is When I Was Straight: Poems (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2014). She teaches in the creative writing program at Florida International University in Miami.