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Davis McCombs

Davis McCombs was born and raised in Kentucky. He received a BA in 1993 from Harvard University and an MFA in 1995 from the University of Virginia. From 1996 to 1998, he attended Stanford University as a Wallace Stegner Fellow. Between 1991 and 2001, he also worked as a park ranger at Mammoth Cave National Park.

He is the author of lore (University of Utah Press, 2016), winner of the Agha Shahid Ali Prize; Dismal Rock (Tupelo Press, 2007), winner of the Dorset Prize; and Ultima Thule (Yale University Press, 2000), selected by W. S. Merwin for the Yale Series of Younger Poets.

McCombs’s poetry is known for its exploration of his native Kentucky’s landscape and history. Linda Gregerson writes, “With infinite patience and luminous particularity, Davis McCombs unearths the traces of those-who-have-passed-before-us through the material world.”

He has received fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Foundation. He directs the Program in Creative Writing and Translation at the University of Arkansas and lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


lore (University of Utah Press, 2016)
Dismal Rock (Tupelo Press, 2007)
Ultima Thule (Yale University Press, 2000)

By This Poet


Hot Springs

after Robert Francis’s “Silent Poem”


rain storm   rock pore   flow path   earth crust
thrust fault   drip slope   trough dam   blue ooze

tile floor   stained glass   sitz bath   rust stain
sun porch   deck chair   sky light   gas lamp

foot bridge   leaf twitch   dirt trail   red oak
white tail   hoof prints   moss stump   wood thrush

chert flake   clay shard   pit mine   whet stone
knife blade   green gorge  creek mud   blue tent

fire ring   wood smoke   sign post   steep road
store front   plate glass   stone arch   tile roof

street light   pump house   brick walk   steam grate
hot wisp   guard rail   foot soak   spa town