Two of my poems are featured in the latest edition of Anti-, out today online. Anti- is an incredible online journal run by Steven D. Schroeder and a dedicated staff; I look forward to reading each full issue as well as to seeing their “featured poets” throughout the year. I’m honored to be a part of Issue 12—especially to be on the same contributors’ list as the fabulous poet Lisa Fay Coutley, whom I met at Bread Loaf last year, and some great former contributors to the Cincinnati Review, including Sandy Longhorn and Adam Tavel.
The two poems on Anti- each have special meaning to me. One, “Full Cry,” is the title poem of my new book, which will be available online sometime in the next month or so. I’ve carried the phrase “full cry” in my mind since 2006, when I was at a residency at Ragdale in Lake Forest, Illinois. A friend (Linnea Paskow—creator of the book’s cover art) and I had gone into town, and we stopped at the Deer Path Inn to ask them a question. They had a set of three oil paintings on the wall, each featuring different aspects of the ritualized aristocratic hunt. I remember “first flight” and “full cry” in particular; the latter phrase has stuck with me since then, and I transferred it between a few notebooks over the years before finding the subject of the poem it could lead, when I rode the Number 17 bus one morning to the University of Cincinnati and saw one of those lawn-ornament deer.
“Aggregate” is a little more personal, recounting some of my experiences while I went through a month-long battle with appendicitis back in 2010. It was a little ugly at times; the images in the poem are not exaggerated. I’ve long since recovered, but that period of extreme illness is one that has affected me profoundly. The poem also references the gas-line repair project that has caused major construction throughout the Cincinnati area for the past few years, and it interweaves words from various prayers for healing from illness.
So, it’s an appropriate transition now to also announce that I’ll be taking part in a Generations in Dialogue mentorship program over the next two years with five other writers interested in exploring what it means to be a writer of faith. The program is sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies, where we’ll officially be called Mullin Scholars, and our mentor will be Gregory Wolfe, editor of the fabulous literary journal, Image, which has long been a favorite of mine. It’s glossy and beautiful, smart and thoughtful. You can read more about the mentorship program and the other writers who have been named Mullin Scholars here. I can’t wait to get to know these fine folk.