poem index


Bob Hicok

Grand Ledge , MI , United States
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Bob Hicok

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.


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)

by this poet

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
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

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