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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)

Ours Is the Age of Pre-Post-Hope

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 specks

of tension make me feel
rag-edged as a contorted filbert.

Consider, if you will, the following:
Cities should try to sell umbrellas

only in slim numbers,
forcing strangers in twos

to rub arm hairs together.
Padmasambhava is said to have said

the basis for realizing enlightenment
is the human body. Understand.

These pairs of persons
wouldn’t even have to talk,

looking over each other’s shoulders
at the town’s shins—

broad umbel shadowing
the earth between them,

carving raw closeness
with the lights of their ribs.

From Human Directional (Etruscan Press, 2016). Copyright © 2016 by Diane Raptosh. Used with the permission of the author.

From Human Directional (Etruscan Press, 2016). Copyright © 2016 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


Despite the fact I can’t lay flat
            two fingers,

on my way home from work
            I walked on my hands

from my corner—
            over grass and elm shadow and across

the sidewalk’s


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


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