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About this poet

On August 20, 1950, Chase Twichell was born in New Haven, Connecticut. She received a bachelor's degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1973 and an MFA from the University of Iowa in 1976.

Her books of poetry include Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), Dog Language (Copper Canyon Press, 2005), The Snow Watcher (Ontario Review Press, 1998), The Ghost of Eden (Ontario Review Press, 1995), Perdido (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1991), The Odds (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986), and Northern Spy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1981).

From 1976 to 1984 she worked at Pennyroyal Press, and from 1986 to 1988 she coedited the Alabama Poetry Series, published by University of Alabama Press. She also coedited The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach with Robin Behn (HarperCollins, 1992).

She has won awards from the Artists Foundation, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

She has taught at Princeton University, Goddard College, Warren Wilson College, the University of Alabama, and Hampshire College. In 1999 Twichell founded Ausable Press.

She lives in Keene, New York, with her husband, the novelist Russell Banks.

Road Tar

Chase Twichell, 1950
A kid said you could chew road tar
if you got it before it cooled,
black globule with a just-forming skin.
He said it was better than cigarettes.
He said he had a taste for it.

On the same road, a squirrel
was doing the Watusi to free itself
from its crushed hindquarters.
A man on a bicycle stomped on its head,
then wiped his shoe on the grass.

It was autumn, the adult word for fall.
In school we saw a film called Reproduction.
The little snake-father poked his head
into the slippery future,
and a girl with a burned tongue was conceived.

From The Snow Watcher, published by Ontario Review Press, 1998. Copyright © 1998 by Chase Twichell. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Chase Twichell

Chase Twichell

Born on August 20, 1950, Chase Twichell is the author of several books of poetry including Northern Spy.

by this poet

poem
Who are you, austere little cloud
drawn to this page, this sky in the dream
I'm having of meeting you here?

There should be a word that means "tiny sky."
Probably there is, in Japanese.
A verbal Polaroid of a Polaroid.

But you're the sky, not a cloud.
I'm the cloud. I gather and dissipate,
but you are always
poem
Don't tell me we're not like plants,
sending out a shoot when we need to,
or spikes, poisonous oils, or flowers.

Come to me but only when I say,
that's how plants announce

the rules of propagation.
Even children know this. You can
see them imitating all the moves

with their bright plastic toys.
So that
poem
Whenever I look
out at the snowy
mountains at this hour
and speak directly
into the ear of the sky,
it's you I'm thinking of.
You're like the spirits
the children invent
to inhabit the stuffed horse
and the doll.
I don't know who hears me.
I don't know who speaks
when the horse speaks.