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D.A. Powell

D.A. Powell

D.A. Powell

(United States of America, 1963)
Poet Carl Phillips observed on awarding Powell the fourth annual Boston Review Poetry Prize, “Here is work that manages to be entirely of-the-moment while at every turn it announces (without preening over it) not merely an awareness, but an actual confidence with such prosodic traditions as the heroic couplet and the pentameter line, such cultural and literary traditions as those of the Old Testament and of meaningfully comic punning.” Noting Powell’s “open-secret sexiness, his confident collage effects and his grave subjects” in Cocktails, New York Times critic and Harvard professor Stephen Burt wrote, “No accessible poet of his generation is half as original, and no poet as original is this accessible.”
shepherdboy?    not the most salient image for contemporary readers
nor most available.     unless you’re thinking BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN:
a reference already escaping.      I did love a montana man, though no good shepherd

(from ‘corydon & alexis’)

Powell is known for his syntactically inventive, longer eight- or ten-beat lines in poems that are often untitled. As a teacher at Sonoma State, he noticed that most of his students’ poems were written to fit the demands of the page. His experiments with his students in writing on unexpected surfaces (such as candlesticks or rolls of toilet paper) led to his own breakthrough in “subverting the page”: he turned a legal pad sideways and wrote the first poem for Tea. Powell explains that “by pulling the line longer, stretching it into a longer breath, I was giving a little bit more life to some people who had very short lives.”

tread light upon this pedestal.     dream instead of a time before
              your love disfigured, a time
                           withstanding even crass, wind-beaten time itself

(From ‘courthouse steps’)

Born in Albany, Georgia, D.A. Powell received an MA at Sonoma State University and an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His first three collections of poetry, Tea, (1998), Lunch (2000), and Cocktails (2004), are considered by some to be a trilogy on the AIDS epidemic. Lunch was a finalist for the National Poetry Series, and Cocktails was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. His most recent book, Chronic (2009), received the Kingsley Tufts Award and was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award.

Powell has served as the Briggs-Copeland Lecturer at Harvard, and he has also taught at Columbia University and the University of San Francisco. He has been awarded the Lyric Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Paul Engle Fellowship from the James Michener Foundation. His poems have been featured in the Norton anthology American Hybrid (2009) and Best American Poetry (2008).
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Tea, Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, 1998
Lunch, Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, 2000
Cocktails, Graywolf, Minneapolis, 2004
Chronic, Graywolf, Minneapolis, 2009

Articles by D.A. Powell

‘Amy Lowell: “The Garden by Moonlight”’
‘Annie Get Your Gun’
‘Ginsberg’s Howl


Boston Review: ‘Fourth Annual Poetry Contest Winner: D.A. Powell’
The Southeast Review: ‘An Interview with D.A. Powell’
The Rumpus: ‘The Rumpus Original (Supersized) Combo with D.A. Powell’
Poetry Off the Shelf: ‘Love in the Age of Global Warming: Two poems by D.A. Powell’, audio recording
Poetry Off the Shelf: ‘Poet’s Choice: Of Love and War’, audio recording
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