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Brenda Coultas

Brenda Coultas was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, on September 18, 1958. She graduated from the University of Southern Indiana and earned an MFA from Naropa Institute (now Naropa University).

Coultas is the author of four poetry collections, includingThe Tatters (Wesleyan University Press, 2014), The Marvelous Bones of Time (Coffee House Press, 2008), and A Handmade Museum (Coffee House Press, 2003).

Her honors include a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship and residencies from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Emily Harvey Foundation in Venice, Italy, and the Millay Colony for the Arts.

She teaches at Touro College and lives in New York City.


The Tatters (Wesleyan University Press, 2014)
The Marvelous Bones of Time (Coffee House Press, 2008)
A Handmade Museum (Coffee House Press, 2003)
Early Films (Rodent Press, 1996)

By This Poet


An Inventory of an Elaborate Pile of Garbage at 2nd Ave. and 2nd St. on June 1, 2000

Blackened tea kettle like one I have at home, couch with living man, eyes closed, his dog and runny dog shit on sidewalk. Cardboard boxes, lamp shade, the filter basket of a drip-o-later, a wooden serving tray with loose bottom. A mouse's body with eyes open and intact. Styrofoam peanuts. 2 balsa wood whiskey bottle boxes, thin wooden fruit basket. Wooden construction walls with POST NO BILLS painted gray. A piece of paper ordering the closing of the Mars Bar garden. A man setting out 4 candles, and 2 sets of wrapped paper plates. A junkie couple, white, late 30s, covered in scabs and tattoos with dog, had contructed a lean-to over the couch and slept that day. I thought about what brought them to this moment and thought "be in the moment," thought "be here now," thought "what's the worse thing that could happen?" Thought "shit happens." And began to think "today is the first day of the rest of. . ." Thought this could be the best day of their lives.

from “The Tatters”

I can get at the drawings or language of making things: instruction manuals for building fires or cookbooks for explosives or poisons. I have found out why we stand tall and who the commanders of the great ships are. I have learned the story of the microscope and of birds which dress in blue and purple, of how to read a sea shell. I have read of Monsters of the Land and Sky, from the crumbles of a 19th century text. I commit to memory views from penny postcards of sights I’ve never seen and actions I never witnessed; like the great swans of Long Island in the wild, or the skyline of Manhattan as seen from the deck of a paddlewheel steamer. I am impressed by cancelled postcards from the plains of a sod house or from a museum of corn.