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About this poet

Jeffrey Thomson received a PhD in creative writing from the University of Missouri in 1996, and he published his first book of poetry, The Halo Brace (Birch Brook Press) in 1998.

Thomson is the author of three additional poetry collections, including Birdwatching in Wartime (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2009), which was awarded both the 2010 Maine Book Award and the 2011 ASLE Award in Environmental Creative Writing. Of Thomson’s work, the poet Bob Hicok says, “The sheer appetite of these poems, their intellectual drive and rhythmic insistence, conveys an almost physical sense of the poet’s curiosity, a wonder that deepens, over the course of the book, to a conveyance of his love for the fullness of the natural world.”

Thomson has also published the memoir fragile (Red Mountain Press, 2015) and several translations, including The Poems of Catallus (Cambridge University Press, 2015) with Jeannine Diddle Uzzi.

In 2012 Thomson received a Distinguished Fulbright Scholarship to the Seamus Heaney Poetry Centre in Belfast. He is also the recipient of fellowships from the Hodson Trust, the Maine Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. He currently serves as an associate professor at the University of Maine–Farmington and lives with his wife and son in Farmington, Maine.

Selected Bibliography

Birdwatching in Wartime (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2009)
Renovation (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2005)
The Country of Lost Sons (Parlor Press, 2004)
The Halo Brace (Birch Brook Press, 1998)

fragile (Red Mountain Press, 2015)

Achilles in Jasper, Texas

I know this: a man walked home drunk
along the corduroy of pines
in east Texas, the bronze duff and

the dust and the late light that fell
on him.  Three men gave him a lift

that afternoon and raised him
with their fists and lowered
him with their nigger this and

nigger that and after a while,
when all the fun they could have

with him leaked out into
the ruts of a logging cut,
they tied him to the boat

hitch of their truck and pulled
away.  I know he kept his head up

awhile because his elbows were
ground to the bone; I know enough
was finally enough, and his head

left his body behind,
but I don’t know what to do

with this, America, this rage
like Achilles twitching
Hector behind his chariot

for 12 days until even
the gods were ashamed.

Copyright © 2014 by Jeffrey Thomson. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

Copyright © 2014 by Jeffrey Thomson. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

Jeffrey Thomson

Jeffrey Thomson

Jeffrey Thomson is the author of Birdwatching in Wartime (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2009), winner of the 2010 Maine Book Award.

by this poet


Our stories can only carry us so far. I know
there are layers beneath the layers and
you haven’t asked but I would describe
a fresco not even finished in the workshop,
discovered beneath damaged plaster here
in the Scuola del Cuoio. A simple Madonna
and child marked off with a