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About this poet

D. A. Powell was born in Albany, Georgia, on May 16, 1963. He attended Sonoma State University, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1991, and his master's in 1993. He received his M.F.A. degree from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop in 1996.

Powell is the author of the trilogy of books Tea (Wesleyan, 1998), Lunch (2000), and Cocktails (Graywolf, 2004)—which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His poetry collection Chronic (2009) received the Kingsley Tufts Award and was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. His most recent book is Useless Landscape, or a Guide for Boys: Poems (2012).

His subjects range from movies, art, and other trappings of contemporary culture to the AIDS pandemic. Powell’s work often returns to AIDS, and his first three collections have been called a trilogy about the disease. As Carl Phillips wrote, in his judge’s note for Boston Review’s Annual Poetry Award, of Powell’s work, "No fear, here, of heritage nor of music nor, refreshingly, of authority. Mr. Powell recognizes in the contemporary the latest manifestations of a much older tradition: namely, what it is to be human."

Powell has received a Paul Engle Fellowship from the James Michener Center, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Lyric Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America, among other awards. He has taught at Columbia University, the University of Iowa, Sonoma State University, San Francisco State University, and served as the Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Poetry at Harvard University. He currently teaches at the University of San Francisco.


Bibliography

Useless Landscape, or a Guide for Boys: Poems (Graywolf Press, 2012)
Chronic (Graywolf Press, 2009)
Cocktails (Graywolf Press, 2004)
Lunch (Wesleyan University Press, 2000)
Tea (Wesleyan University Press, 1998)

Hustlers with Bad Timing

D. A. Powell, 1963

That pip in the pear is a blackbird. Tussle on the grass a grackle. It is officially spring. Watch:

Some kids pulling up BURIED WATER PIPE flags. And next to them the little violets. Rain violets. The flags are blue.

The sycamores are just greening. "The world in fact is just," Chaos said. And we believed him, who called himself

the most difficult thing he could think of. He wanted to get into the club. The club he was clubbed outside of.


Later, it'll matter that there's no marker. Before he was Chaos, Robin he was, because he stole. Was blank before.

A bronze angel thoughtfully placed for all who grieve a child. Of course a child. What else might you have lost.

Copyright © 2012 by D. A. Powell. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2012 by D. A. Powell. Used with permission of the author.

D. A. Powell

D. A. Powell

D. A. Powell was born in Albany, Georgia on May 16, 1963.

by this poet

poem

Watching Picnic again for the
umpteenth time. We need
more trains. The tin-roofed stations in
red brick or the grand multi-track
white terminals. Someone left
me by train once, tearily, and
I never should have let his
jive ass back in to collect his things
that were

poem
and yet we think that song outlasts us all:  wrecked devotion
the wept face of desire, a kind of savage caring that reseeds itself and grows in clusters

oh, you who are young, consider how quickly the body deranges itself
how time, the cruel banker, forecloses us to snowdrifts white as god's own ribs



what
poem
A lone cloudburst hijacked the Doppler radar screen, a bandit
hung from the gallows, in rehearsal for the broke-necked man,
damn him, tucked under millet in the potter's plot. Welcome
to disaster's alkaline kiss, its little clearing edged with twigs,
and posted against trespass. Though finite, its fence is