poem index

poet

David Baker

1954- , Bangor , ME , United States
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David Baker was born in Bangor, Maine, on December 27, 1954. He was raised in Missouri and has spent more than forty years of his life in the Midwest.

Baker received degrees in English from Central Missouri State University before earning a PhD in English from the University of Utah in 1983.

His first collection of poems, Laws of the Land, was published by Ahsahta/Boise State University in 1981, followed by Haunts (Cleveland State University) in 1985. Since then, Baker has published several collections of poetry, including Scavenger Loop (W. W. Norton, 2015), Never-Ending Birds (W. W. Norton, 2009), Treatise on Touch: Selected Poems (Arc Publications, 2007), Midwest Eclogue (W. W. Norton, 2005), Changeable Thunder (University of Arkansas, 2001), The Truth about Small Towns (1998), After the Reunion (1994), and Sweet Home, Saturday Night (1991).

Baker is also the author of three books of criticism: Radiant Lyre: Essays on Lyric Poetry (Graywolf, 2007), Heresy and the Ideal: On Contemporary Poetry (University of Arkansas, 2000), and Meter in English: A Critical Engagement (1996).

About Baker, the poet Linda Gregerson says, "[He] writes with the distilled, distinguished attentiveness only the finest poets can reliably command," and Marilyn Hacker has called him "the most expansive and moving poet to come out of the American Midwest since James Wright."

Among Baker's awards are fellowships and prizes from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, Poetry Society of America, Society of Midland Authors, and the Pushcart Foundation.

A resident of Granville, Ohio, he is currently a Professor of English and the Thomas B. Fordham Chair of Creative Writing at Denison University, where he serves as poetry editor of The Kenyon Review.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Scavenger Loop (W. W. Norton, 2015)
Never-Ending Birds (W. W. Norton, 2009)
Treatise on Touch: Selected Poems (Arc Publications, 2007)
Midwest Eclogue (W. W. Norton, 2005)
Changeable Thunder (University of Arkansas, 2001)
After the Reunion (University of Arkansas, 1994)
Sweet Home, Saturday Night (University of Arkansas, 1991)
The Truth about Small Towns (University of Arkansas, 1998)
Haunts (Cleveland State University, 1985)
Laws of the Land (Ahsahta/Boise State University, 1981)

Prose

Meter in English: A Critical Engagement (University of Arkansas, 1996)
Heresy and the Ideal: On Contemporary Poetry (University of Arkansas, 2000)
Radiant Lyre: Essays on Lyric Poetry (Graywolf Press, 2007)

by this poet

poem

        urchins spread. They want enough room
on the seabed, along the black basaltic
jet of offshore reef, sun-pied, out-swept, or
down along the darker overcrowded

urchin barrens, to quiver their hundred-
plus spines and not encroach or be encroached
or preyed upon, pulled, ripped

2
poem
1.

Such pleasure one needs to make for oneself. 
She has snipped the paltry forsythia 
to force the bloom, has cut each stem on 
the slant and sprinkled brown sugar in a vase, 
so the wintered reeds will take their water. 
It hurts her to do this but she does it. 
When are we most ourselves, and when the
poem
The moon tonight is
the cup of a
     scar. I hate the moon.
     I hate—more—that scar. My love waited

one day, then half
the next. One 
     cyst drained of fluid that looked,
     she said, like icing for

a cake. Red-
laced, she said, gold,
      tan, thick, rich. Kind of
      beautiful.

One
2