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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 ten collections of poetry, including XX: Poems for the Twentieth Century (Ecco Press, 2016), 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

XX: Poems for the Twentieth Century (Ecco Press, 2016)
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

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 is the author of ten collections of poetry, including XX: Poems for the Twentieth Century, In The Kingdom of the Sea Monkeys, Shannon, and Seven Notebooks. His third book, Spring Comes to Chicago, won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.

by this poet

poem

Bird is building a metropolis with his horn.
Here are the gates of Babylon, the walls of Jericho cast down.
Might die in Chicago, Kansas City’s where I was born.

Snowflake in a blizzard, purple rose before the thorn.
Stone by stone, note by note, atom by atom, noun by noun,
Bird is

poem

Green and blue and white, it is a flag
for Florida stitched by hungry ibises.

It is a paradise of flocks, a cornucopia
of wind and grass and dark, slow waters.

Turtles bask in the last tatters of afternoon,
frogs perfect their symphony at dusk—

in its solitude we remember ourselves

poem

Another year is coming to an end
but my old t-shirts will not be back—

the pea-green one from Trinity College,
gunked with streaks of lawnmower grease,

the one with orange bat wings
from Diamond Cavern, Kentucky,

vanished
without a trace.

After a two-day storm I wander

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