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About this poet

David Baker was born in Bangor, Maine, on December 27, 1954. He was raised in Missouri and has spent more than forty years of his life in the Midwest.

Baker received degrees in English from Central Missouri State University before earning a PhD in English from the University of Utah in 1983.

His first collection of poems, Laws of the Land, was published by Ahsahta/Boise State University in 1981, followed by Haunts (Cleveland State University) in 1985. Since then, Baker has published several collections of poetry, including Scavenger Loop (W. W. Norton, 2015), Never-Ending Birds (W. W. Norton, 2009), Treatise on Touch: Selected Poems (Arc Publications, 2007), Midwest Eclogue (W. W. Norton, 2005), Changeable Thunder (University of Arkansas, 2001), The Truth about Small Towns (1998), After the Reunion (1994), and Sweet Home, Saturday Night (1991). Swift: New and Selected Poems is forthcomming from W. W. Norton in 2019.

Baker is also the author of three books of criticism: Radiant Lyre: Essays on Lyric Poetry (Graywolf, 2007), Heresy and the Ideal: On Contemporary Poetry (University of Arkansas, 2000), and Meter in English: A Critical Engagement (1996).

About Baker, the poet Linda Gregerson says, "[He] writes with the distilled, distinguished attentiveness only the finest poets can reliably command," and Marilyn Hacker has called him "the most expansive and moving poet to come out of the American Midwest since James Wright."

Among Baker's awards are fellowships and prizes from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, Poetry Society of America, Society of Midland Authors, and the Pushcart Foundation.

A resident of Granville, Ohio, he is currently a Professor of English and the Thomas B. Fordham Chair of Creative Writing at Denison University, where he serves as poetry editor of The Kenyon Review.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Scavenger Loop (W. W. Norton, 2015)
Never-Ending Birds (W. W. Norton, 2009)
Treatise on Touch: Selected Poems (Arc Publications, 2007)
Midwest Eclogue (W. W. Norton, 2005)
Changeable Thunder (University of Arkansas, 2001)
After the Reunion (University of Arkansas, 1994)
Sweet Home, Saturday Night (University of Arkansas, 1991)
The Truth about Small Towns (University of Arkansas, 1998)
Haunts (Cleveland State University, 1985)
Laws of the Land (Ahsahta/Boise State University, 1981)

Prose

Meter in English: A Critical Engagement (University of Arkansas, 1996)
Heresy and the Ideal: On Contemporary Poetry (University of Arkansas, 2000)
Radiant Lyre: Essays on Lyric Poetry (Graywolf Press, 2007)

After

1.

We came to the island. We stayed in the house.
Rain and sun. Bougainvillea. Pink cedar.
How many shadows slipped along walls
or whetted the leaves of century plants?

2.

We saw clouds from the windows. Far boats.
You left the bed and came back shaking.
Your mother, her white hair, or something
whose shape would never, at last, find you.

3.

Night palms clattering like hungry bowls.
Crazy whistling of the island peepers.
We walked to the water. Walked back.
We walked to the water . . . walked back.

Copyright © 2017 David Baker. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Winter 2017.

Copyright © 2017 David Baker. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Winter 2017.

David Baker

David Baker

David Baker was born in Bangor, Maine, on December 27, 1954. 

by this poet

poem

A slight wrinkle      on the pond           as he said

 

all that’s left of        this life is             what remains

 

for the next              three redwings      motionless now

 

atop cattails             are match tips        soon enough

 

to strike out

poem

Dear darkness. Dear where we bow our heads in disbelief.
     Dear disbelief, hardly bow our heads and
hardly speak, so we sing, such words as darkness
     shows us how on days on end. So I sing it is
not hopeless. Hurry hurry. Nor faithless—to stand
     without faith, keeping open—. Now

poem
The moon tonight is
the cup of a
     scar. I hate the moon.
     I hate—more—that scar. My love waited

one day, then half
the next. One 
     cyst drained of fluid that looked,
     she said, like icing for

a cake. Red-
laced, she said, gold,
      tan, thick, rich. Kind of
      beautiful.

One
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