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About this poet

Campbell McGrath was born in Chicago in 1962 and grew up in Washington, D.C. He received his BA in English language and literature from the University of Chicago and his MFA in creative writing from Columbia University in New York City.

He is the author of nine collections of poetry, including In The Kingdom of the Sea Monkeys (Ecco Press, 2012), Shannon (Ecco Press, 2009), and Seven Notebooks (Ecco Press, 2007). His third book, Spring Comes to Chicago (Ecco Press, 1996), won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.

McGrath’s honors include a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress.

About his work, David Biespiel writes, “McGrath has already developed a signature style that is brutally expansive, slangy, and rife with high- and low-toned jargon. His ‘promethean eruptions’ are at once explosive, swaggering, opportunistic, and flip. … a brilliant bubbling forth of a comic and serious intelligence.”

McGrath lives in Miami and teaches creative writing at Florida International University.


Selected Bibliography

In the Kingdom of the Sea Monkeys (Ecco Press, 2012)
Shannon (Ecco Press, 2009)
Seven Notebooks (Ecco Press, 2008)
Pax Atomica (Ecco Press, 2004)
Florida Poems (Ecco Press, 2002)
Road Atlas (Ecco Press, 1999)
Spring Comes to Chicago (Ecco Press, 1996)
American Noise (Ecco Press, 1993)
Capitalism (Wesleyan University Press, 1990)

Hemingway Dines on Boiled Shrimp and Beer

Campbell McGrath

I'm the original two-hearted brawler.
I gnaw the scrawny heads from prawns,
pummel those mute, translucent crustaceans,
wingless hummingbirds, salt-water spawned.
As the Catalonians do, I eat the eyes at once.
My brawny palms flatten their mainstays.
I pop the shells with my thumbs, then crunch.

Just watch me as I swagger and sprawl,
spice-mad and sated, then dabble in lager
before I go strolling for stronger waters
down to Sloppy Joe's.  My stride as I stagger
shivers the islands, my fingers troll a thousand keys.
My appetite shakes the rock of the nation.
The force of my miction makes the mighty Gulf Stream.

From Florida Poems by Campbell McGrath, published by HarperCollins. Copyright © 2002 by Campbell McGrath. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

From Florida Poems by Campbell McGrath, published by HarperCollins. Copyright © 2002 by Campbell McGrath. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Campbell McGrath

Campbell McGrath

Campbell McGrath was born in Chicago in 1962 and grew up in Washington, D.C. He received his BA in English language and literature from the University of Chicago and his MFA in creative writing from Columbia University in New York City.

He is the author of nine collections of poetry, including In The Kingdom of the Sea Monkeys (Ecco Press, 2012), Shannon (Ecco Press, 2009), and Seven Notebooks (Ecco Press, 2007). His third book, Spring Comes to Chicago (Ecco Press, 1996), won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.

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On the map it is precise and rectilinear as a chessboard, though driving past you would hardly notice it, this boundary line or ragged margin, a shallow swale that cups a simple trickle of water, less rill than rivulet, more gully than dell, a tangled ditch grown up throughout with a fearsome assortment of

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La Serenissima, in morning light, is beautiful.
But you already knew that. 
Palette of honeyed ochre and ship’s bell bronze, 
water precisely the color of the hand-ground pigment
with which the water of Venice has been painted for centuries, 
angled slats of aquamarine