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About this poet

Diane Raptosh was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and raised in Idaho. She received a BA from the College of Idaho in 1983 and an MFA from the University of Michigan in 1986.

Raptosh is the author of five poetry collections: Human Directional (Etruscan Press, 2016); American Amnesiac (Etruscan Press, 2013), which was nominated for the 2013 National Book Award; Parents from a Different Alphabet (Guernica Editions, 2008); Labor Songs (Guernica Editions, 1999); and Just West of Now (Guernica Editions, 1992).

The poet Kerri Webster writes of American Amnesiac, which chronicles the journey of a man who has lost his memory: “Against the background of our cultural forgetting, the shortcomings of America’s working memory, Diane Raptosh introduces us to this soul who might be any of us as he pieces together a world and a self from bewilderment.”

In 2013, Raptosh was selected as Boise’s inaugural poet laureate, and she went on to receive Idaho’s highest literary position, writer in residence, that same year. She currently holds the Eyck-Berringer Endowed Chair in English at The College of Idaho, where she also directs the criminal justice and prison studies program. She lives in Boise, Idaho.


Human Directional (Etruscan Press, 2016)
American Amnesiac (Etruscan Press, 2013)
Parents from a Different Alphabet (Guernica Editions, 2008)
Labor Songs (Guernica Editions, 1999)
Just West of Now (Guernica Editions, 1992)

from American Amnesiac [Is it possible to let the sleeping life seep into day—]

Is it possible to let the sleeping life seep into day—
that bright murk of softness, state of being reverently

at rest yet wide-eyed as Athena’s wired owl? Often
when my alarm goes off in the morning, something

alarming happens in my dreams. A pair of words
might land on my face—exist : exit. Warren : rabbits.

Language : anguish. I just read about a scientist
who said humans have so transformed the planet

we should no longer refer to it as Earth. We seem on
our way to a very different word. He suggests Eaarth.

But what about Achates, as in ancient trusty friend?
Or how about Planet Greige, from the French for raw,

unfinished, usually said of silk. But we’ll make the word mean
as we see fit: Heart’s wife. Furl of blue-green. A tired outburst of silence. 

From American Amnesiac (Etruscan Press, 2013). Copyright © 2013 by Diane Raptosh. Used with the permission of the author.

From American Amnesiac (Etruscan Press, 2013). Copyright © 2013 by Diane Raptosh. Used with the permission of the author.

Diane Raptosh

Diane Raptosh

Diane Raptosh is the author of several poetry collections, including Human Directional (Etruscan Press, 2016). She lives in Boise, Idaho.

by this poet


The self is a thousand localities
            like a small nation—assembly required: borders and roads;

armies; farms; small and large pieces of parchment. I stand by
            all the territories I have ever been, even as I can’t


I like how, when I look out
onto this desert Idaho plain,
I can pretty much graze my palm
on the Pliocene—
and doing so, greet the great wide savannahs of Africa—
mossy and tree lined,
laced in saber-toothed cats,
hyena-like dogs and a half caravan
of even-toed camels.


Tonight’s the night to spin a world
that does not reproduce the now,

like the inventor of the Vegetebrella,
who thought the beauty of the simulacrum

of a butter lettuce head
and levered silver pole could live as one.

This Kindle is jealous
of that dulcimer, and even these