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About this poet

John Canaday has published poems in New England Review, The Paris Review, Raritan, and Slate, among other journals and anthologies. His first book-length collection of poems, The Invisible World, was chosen by Sherod Santos for the 2001 Walt Whitman Award and will be published by Louisiana State University Press in spring 2002. He is also a winner of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship in Playwriting and the New Millennium Poetry Award, and he has been the Starbuck Fellow in Poetry at Boston University, a Watson Fellow in England, and a tutor to the Royal Family in Jordan.

He has a PhD in English, teaches playwriting at Harvard Summer School, and tutors students in the Boston area in writing, literature, history, physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics. His critical study, The Nuclear Muse: Literature, Physics, and the First Atomic Bombs, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2000. He lives in Arlington, Massachusetts.

Song of Myself

John Canaday
I am a stubborn ox dreaming 
of rain as the drover's fingers drum 
around my eyes. But no: the wet 
hum of flies distracted me, 
and now the plow has drifted from 
the line I meant to follow. See 
where the damp leather of the reins 
has worn the callus on my left 
forefinger raw? Or was it the dry, 
ash handle of my hoe? I can hear 
the steel head singing as it strikes 
rocky ground, the fresh-turned earth 
swallowing showers of sparks. The tip 
of my tongue goes dry. I touch my lips 
to the soil as I once touched you, here 
and there. A single knot of dirt 
crumbles slowly in my mouth 
with the taste of sweet butter dripping 
from your thumb. This ground will raise 
a heavy crop. I am the wheat 
that flowed around your waist like water. 
I am that lonely knot of earth.

From The Invisible World by John Canaday, forthcoming from Louisiana State University Press in 2002. © Copyright 2001 by John Canaday. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

From The Invisible World by John Canaday, forthcoming from Louisiana State University Press in 2002. © Copyright 2001 by John Canaday. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

John Canaday

John Canaday

John Canaday has published poems in New England Review, The Paris

by this poet

poem
Amman sprawls, sun-struck, on seven 
hills, like a latter-day Rome, only 
less so. It was, in fact, once Roman, 
as the ruined theater downtown attests, 
but today the grown children of sheikhs 
drive herds of camel-colored 
Mercedes down the steep wadis. 
These castoffs of the rich Gulf nations 
bellow in the
poem
In early spring, here in the Rub 'al Khali, 
Gabriel swings his goad over the humped backs 
of swollen clouds. They roar like angry camels 
and thunder toward the fields of the fellahin. 
At night, I dream of grass so green it speaks. 
But at noon, even the dry chatter of djinn 
leaves the wadis. The sun lowers