poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Bob Hicok was born in Grand Ledge, Michigan, in 1960 and worked for many years as an automotive die designer and a computer system administrator. He began teaching in 2002 and received an MFA from Vermont College in 2004.

His first book of poetry, The Legend of Light (University of Wisconsin Press, 1995), received the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry and was named a 1997 ALA Booklist Notable Book of the Year. His other poetry collections include Animal Soul (Invisible Cities Press, 2001), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; This Clumsy Living (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007), winner of the 2008 Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress; and Sex & Love & (Copper Canyon Press, 2016).

Hicok writes poems that value speech and storytelling, that revel in the material offered by pop culture, and that deny categories such as “academic” or “narrative.” In an interview in Gulf Coast, he elaborates, “Being open to all kinds of poems allows for a fuller range of expression and helps the poet write out of different kinds of moods and sensibilities.”

As Elizabeth Gaffney notes in the New York Times Book Review: “Each of Mr. Hicok’s poems is marked by the exalted moderation of his voice—erudition without pretension, wisdom without pontification, honesty devoid of confessional melodrama. . . . His judicious eye imbues even the dreadful with beauty and meaning.”

Hicok is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts, and his poetry has been awarded three Pushcart Prizes and selected for inclusion in five volumes of Best American Poetry. He currently teaches at Purdue University.


Bibliography

Sex & Love & (Copper Canyon Press, 2016)
Elegy Owed (Copper Canyon Press, 2014)
This Clumsy Living (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007)
Insomnia Diary (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004)
Animal Soul (Invisible Cities Press, 2001)
Plus Shipping (BOA Editions, 1998)
The Legend of Light (University of Wisconsin Press, 1995)

In Michael Robins's class minus one

At the desk where the boy sat, he sees the Chicago River.
It raises its hand.
It asks if metaphor should burn.
He says fire is the basis for all forms of the mouth.
He asks, why did you fill the boy with your going?
I didn't know a boy had been added to me, the river says.
Would you have given him back if you knew?
I think so, the river says, I have so many boys in me,
	I'm worn out stroking eyes looking up at the day.
Have you written a poem for us? he asks the river,
	and the river reads its poem,
	and the other students tell the river
	it sounds like a poem the boy would have written,
	that they smell the boy's cigarettes
in the poem, they feel his teeth
biting the page.
And the river asks, did this boy dream of horses?
	because I suddenly dream of horses, I suddenly dream.
They're in a circle and the river says, I've never understood
	round things, why would leaving come back
	to itself?
And a girl makes a kiss with her mouth and leans it
	against the river, and the kiss flows away
	but the river wants it back, the river makes sounds
	to go after the kiss.
And they all make sounds for the river to carry to the boy.
And the river promises to never surrender the boy's shape
	to the ocean.

From This Clumsy Living by Bob Hicok. © 2007. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

From This Clumsy Living by Bob Hicok. © 2007. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Bob Hicok

Bob Hicok

Bob Hicok was born in 1960. His poetry collection This Clumsy Living (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007) was awarded the 2008 Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress. 

by this poet

poem
A bee in the field. The house on the mountain 
reveals itself to have been there through summer. 
It's not a bee but a horse eating frosted grass 
in the yawn light. Secrets, the anguish of smoke 
above the chimney as it shreds what it's learned 
of fire. The horse has moved, it's not a horse 
but a woman doing
poem

A little bit of hammering
goes a long way toward making
the kind of noise I want my heart
to look up to—or have you ever
gone into a woods and applauded the light
that fights its way to the ground,
and the shadows, and the explosions
of feathers where blue jays
have been

2
poem
A few hours after Des Moines
the toilet overflowed.
This wasn't the adventure it sounds.

I sat with a man whose tattoos
weighed more than I did.
He played Hendrix on mouth guitar.
His Electric Ladyland lips
weren't fast enough
and if pitch and melody
are the rudiments of music,
this was just
memory, a body