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Chase Twichell

1950–

On August 20, 1950, Chase Twichell was born in New Haven, Connecticut. She received a bachelor's degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1973 and an MFA from the University of Iowa in 1976.

Her books of poetry include Things As It Is (forthcoming, Copper Canyon), Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), Dog Language (Copper Canyon Press, 2005), The Snow Watcher (Ontario Review Press, 1998), The Ghost of Eden (Ontario Review Press, 1995), Perdido (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1991), The Odds (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986), and Northern Spy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1981).

From 1976 to 1984 she worked at Pennyroyal Press, and from 1986 to 1988 she coedited the Alabama Poetry Series, published by University of Alabama Press. She also coedited The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach with Robin Behn (HarperCollins, 1992).

She has won awards from the Artists Foundation, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

She has taught at Princeton University, Goddard College, Warren Wilson College, the University of Alabama, and Hampshire College. In 1999 Twichell founded Ausable Press.

She lives in Keene, New York, with her husband, the novelist Russell Banks.

Chase Twichell

By This Poet

11

Road Tar

A kid said you could chew road tar
if you got it before it cooled,
black globule with a just-forming skin.
He said it was better than cigarettes.
He said he had a taste for it.

On the same road, a squirrel
was doing the Watusi to free itself
from its crushed hindquarters.
A man on a bicycle stomped on its head,
then wiped his shoe on the grass.

It was autumn, the adult word for fall.
In school we saw a film called Reproduction.
The little snake-father poked his head
into the slippery future,
and a girl with a burned tongue was conceived.

Erotic Energy

Don't tell me we're not like plants,
sending out a shoot when we need to,
or spikes, poisonous oils, or flowers.

Come to me but only when I say,
that's how plants announce

the rules of propagation.
Even children know this. You can
see them imitating all the moves

with their bright plastic toys.
So that, years later, at the moment

the girl's body finally says yes
to the end of childhood,
a green pail with an orange shovel

will appear in her mind like a tropical
blossom she has never seen before.

Stirred Up By Rain

I fired up the mower
although it was about to rain--
a chill late September afternoon,
wild flowers re-seeding themselves
in the blue smoke of the gas-oil mix.

To be attached to things is illusion,
yet I'm attached to things.
Cold, clouds, wind, color--the sky
is what the brush-cutter wants to cut,
but again the sky is spared.

One of two things can happen:
either the noisy machine dissolves in the dusk
and the dusk takes refuge in the steady rain,
or the meadow wakes shorn of its flowers.
Believing is different than understanding.

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