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About this poet

D. A. Powell was born in Albany, Georgia, on May 16, 1963. He attended Sonoma State University, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1991, and his master's in 1993. He received his M.F.A. degree from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop in 1996.

Powell is the author of the trilogy of books Tea (Wesleyan, 1998), Lunch (2000), and Cocktails (Graywolf, 2004)—which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His poetry collection Chronic (2009) received the Kingsley Tufts Award and was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. His most recent book is Useless Landscape, or a Guide for Boys: Poems (2012).

His subjects range from movies, art, and other trappings of contemporary culture to the AIDS pandemic. Powell’s work often returns to AIDS, and his first three collections have been called a trilogy about the disease. As Carl Phillips wrote, in his judge’s note for Boston Review’s Annual Poetry Award, of Powell’s work, "No fear, here, of heritage nor of music nor, refreshingly, of authority. Mr. Powell recognizes in the contemporary the latest manifestations of a much older tradition: namely, what it is to be human."

Powell has received a Paul Engle Fellowship from the James Michener Center, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Lyric Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America, among other awards. He has taught at Columbia University, the University of Iowa, Sonoma State University, San Francisco State University, and served as the Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Poetry at Harvard University. He currently teaches at the University of San Francisco.


Bibliography

Useless Landscape, or a Guide for Boys: Poems (Graywolf Press, 2012)
Chronic (Graywolf Press, 2009)
Cocktails (Graywolf Press, 2004)
Lunch (Wesleyan University Press, 2000)
Tea (Wesleyan University Press, 1998)

corydon & alexis, redux

D. A. Powell, 1963
and yet we think that song outlasts us all:  wrecked devotion
the wept face of desire, a kind of savage caring that reseeds itself and grows in clusters

oh, you who are young, consider how quickly the body deranges itself
how time, the cruel banker, forecloses us to snowdrifts white as god's own ribs



what else but to linger in the slight shade of those sapling branches
yearning for that vernal beau.   for don't birds covet the seeds of the honey locust
and doesn't the ewe have a nose for wet filaree and slender oats foraged in the meadow
kit foxes crave the blacktailed hare:  how this longing grabs me by the nape



guess I figured to be done with desire, if I could write it out
dispense with any evidence, the way one burns a pile of twigs and brush

what was his name? I'd ask myself, that guy with the sideburns and charming smile
the one I hoped that, as from a sip of hemlock, I'd expire with him on my tongue



silly poet, silly man:  thought I could master nature like a misguided preacher
as if banishing love is a fix.   as if the stars go out when we shut our sleepy eyes

From Chronic by D. A. Powell. Copyright © 2009 by D. A. Powell. Used by permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved.

From Chronic by D. A. Powell. Copyright © 2009 by D. A. Powell. Used by permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved.

D. A. Powell

D. A. Powell

D. A. Powell was born in Albany, Georgia on May 16, 1963.

by this poet

poem

I have had to learn the simplest things
last. Which made for difficulties...
—Charles Olson


We know from accounts of the judgment of Paris how Love took first: 
the apple burnished by—it turns out—her own husband, working the bellows,
forging to Discord's specifications, her
poem
        "Your gang's done gone away."
                —The 119th Calypso, Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Something seems to have gnawed that walnut leaf.

You face your wrinkles, daily, in the mirror.
But the wrinkles are so slimming, they rather flatter.

Revel in the squat luck of that unhappy tree,
poem

That pip in the pear is a blackbird. Tussle on the grass a grackle. It is officially spring. Watch:

Some kids pulling up BURIED WATER PIPE flags. And next to them the little violets. Rain violets. The flags are blue.

The sycamores are just greening. "The world in fact is just," Chaos said. And