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About this poet

In 1960, Bob Hicok was born in Grand Ledge, Michigan. His most recent collection, This Clumsy Living (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007), was awarded the 2008 Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress. His other books are Insomnia Diary (Pitt, 2004), Animal Soul (Invisible Cities Press, 2001),a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Plus Shipping (BOA, 1998), and The Legend of Light (University of Wisconsin, 1995), which received the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry and was named a 1997 ALA Booklist Notable Book of the Year. A recipient of three Pushcart Prizes, Guggenheim and two NEA Fellowships, his poetry has been selected for inclusion in five volumes of Best American Poetry.

Hicok writes poems that value speech and storytelling, that revel in the material offered by pop culture, and that deny categories such as "academic" or "narrative." As Elizabeth Gaffney wrote for the New York Times Book Review: "Each of Mr. Hicok's poems is marked by the exalted moderation of his voice—erudition without pretension, wisdom without pontification, honesty devoid of confessional melodrama. . . . His judicious eye imbues even the dreadful with beauty and meaning."

Hicok has worked as an automotive die designer and a computer system administrator, and is currently an Associate Professor of English at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Epithalamium

Bob Hicok
A bee in the field. The house on the mountain 
reveals itself to have been there through summer. 
It's not a bee but a horse eating frosted grass 
in the yawn light. Secrets, the anguish of smoke 
above the chimney as it shreds what it's learned 
of fire. The horse has moved, it's not a horse 
but a woman doing the stations of the cross 
with a dead baby in her arms. The anguish of the house 
as it reveals smoke to the mountain. A woman 
eating cold grass in Your name, shredding herself 
like fire. The woman has stopped, it's not a woman 
but smoke on its knees keeping secrets in what it reveals. 
The everything has moved, it's not everything 
but a shredding of the anguish of names. The marriage 
of light: particle to wave. Do you take? I do.

From Words for Empty and Words for Full, published by University of Pittsburgh Press. Copyright © 2011 by Bob Hicok. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

From Words for Empty and Words for Full, published by University of Pittsburgh Press. Copyright © 2011 by Bob Hicok. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Bob Hicok

Bob Hicok

Bob Hicok was born in 1960. His most recent collection, This Clumsy

by this poet

poem
A few hours after Des Moines
the toilet overflowed.
This wasn't the adventure it sounds.

I sat with a man whose tattoos
weighed more than I did.
He played Hendrix on mouth guitar.
His Electric Ladyland lips
weren't fast enough
and if pitch and melody
are the rudiments of music,
this was just
memory, a body
poem
At the desk where the boy sat, he sees the Chicago River.
It raises its hand.
It asks if metaphor should burn.
He says fire is the basis for all forms of the mouth.
He asks, why did you fill the boy with your going?
I didn't know a boy had been added to me, the river says.
Would you have given him back if you
poem
I don't have much time. I'm an important person
to chickadees and mourning doves, whose feeder 
was smashed last night by a raccoon. Soon 
I'll be wielding duct tape, noticing the dew, 
wanting to bathe in it, hoping the awkwardness 
of yesterday (three instances of people talking 
with bear traps for mouths)