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Fiction Writer, Poet
Little Rock, AR
I was born in Minnesota in 1951 and studied creative writing at Southwest Minnesota State University, Syracuse University, and the University of Iowa. An emeritus professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, I currently teach in the low-residency MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. When people ask me what my fiction and poetry is about, I'm never sure how to answer. It's easier to say what they aren't about: my own life. As I say in my essay "Autobiographobia: Writing and the Secret Life," in my stories and poems I have tried to write my way into many characters whose lives I know nothing, or next to nothing, about. On paper, I have been--or at least tried to be--a nun, a serial killer, a bag lady, a nine-year-old boy, a 99-year-old man, a woman afflicted with hysterical blindness, a teenager who witnesses his father's nervous breakdown, a man with an artificial hand, a divorcee, a minor league baseball player from the Dominican Republic, a Hmong refugee, a 16th-century Spanish priest, a 19th-century Russian dwarf, the biblical Lazarus, and several actual writers (including Gustave Flaubert, Anton Chekhov, and Franz Kafka) and numerous actual jazz musicians (including Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Sun Ra). If there's a common denominator in all of the people I've written about, I don't know what it is. All I know is that I have been drawn to them and their lives and that they have created me as much as I have created them.
I am interested in where lyric and narrative intersect, in working with the strengths in each of these forms. I am interested in white space and line breaks, in the way silence creates room in which words collide and ricochet. I am interested in the kind of tension that can be made visually and linguistically with letters placed on the page. And I am interested in sound, in how the repetition of sounds creates density and intensity within lines, stanzas, and entire poems. I teach in the Arkansas Writer's MFA Program and for the Department of Writing at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, AR. I co-edit the online poetry journal Heron Tree, and blog at Myself the only Kangaroo among the Beauty.