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About this poet

Erin Belieu was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on September 25, 1967, and received a BFA from the University of Nebraska, an MFA from Ohio State University, and an MA from Boston University.

Belieu is the author of four poetry collections: Slant Six (Copper Canyon Press, 2014); Black Box (Copper Canyon Press, 2006); One Above and One Below (Copper Canyon Press, 2000), winner of the Ohioana Book Award and the Society of Midland Authors Award; and Infanta (Copper Canyon Press, 1995), which was selected by Hayden Carruth for the National Poetry Series.

According to the New York Times review of Slant Six, “Her gifts—for clarity, consolidation, humor and moments of hard-earned feeling—are old-fashioned ones. She’s a comedian of the human spirit, in league with poets from John O’Hara through Deborah Garrison and Tony Hoagland.” Using a conversational voice that’s unabashedly cynical, ironic, and frank, Belieu’s poems address the contradictions, absurdities, and social injustices of modern American life—as well as her takes on feminist issues, history, sexuality, and love—with witty quips and biting satire.

A recipient of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Award, Belieu has taught at Boston University, Kenyon College, Ohio University, and Washington University, and is the former managing editor of AGNI. She is the cofounder and codirector, with poet Cate Marvin, of VIDA: Women In Literary Arts, an organization whose mission is to “increase critical attention to contemporary women’s writing as well as further transparency around gender equality issues in contemporary literary culture.” Belieu currently teaches at Florida State University. She lives in Tallahassee, Florida.


Bibliography

Slant Six (Copper Canyon Press, 2014)
Black Box (Copper Canyon Press, 2006)
One Above and One Below (Copper Canyon Press, 2000)
Infanta (Copper Canyon Press, 1995)

Against Writing about Children

Erin Belieu, 1967
When I think of the many people
who privately despise children,
I can't say I'm completely shocked,

having been one. I was not
exceptional, uncomfortable as that is
to admit, and most children are not

exceptional. The particulars of 
cruelty, sizes Large and X-Large, 
memory gnawing it like

a fat dog, are ordinary: Mean Miss
Smigelsky from the sixth grade;
the orthodontist who 

slapped you for crying out. Children
frighten us, other people's and 
our own. They reflect

the virused figures in which failure
began. We feel accosted by their
vulnerable natures. Each child turns

into a problematic ocean, a mirrored
body growing denser and more
difficult to navigate until

sunlight merely bounces
off the surface. They become impossible
to sound. Like us, but even weaker.

From The Poet's Child: A Copper Canyon Press Anthology, edited by Michael Wiegers. Copyright © 2002 by Erin Belieu. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press. All rights reserved.

From The Poet's Child: A Copper Canyon Press Anthology, edited by Michael Wiegers. Copyright © 2002 by Erin Belieu. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press. All rights reserved.

Erin Belieu

Erin Belieu

Erin Belieu was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on September 25, 1967, and received a BFA from the University of Nebraska, an MFA from Ohio State University, and an MA from Boston University.

by this poet

poem

Mother, I'm trying
to write
a poem to you—


which is how most
poems to mothers must
begin—or, What I've wanted
to say, Mother.
..but we
as children of mothers,
even when mothers ourselves,

cannot bear our poems
to them. Poems to

poem

Field is pause   field is plot   field is red chigger bump where

the larvae feed   corn wig curled in your ear. Field cares not

a fig for your resistance   though kindly   gently   lay your

head down   girl   lay it down.
   When ready   storm   when

summer   kilned