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Donald Revell


Born in the Bronx on June 12, 1954, Donald Revell is a graduate of SUNY-Binghamton and SUNY-Buffalo. His first collection of poems, From the Abandoned Cities, was published by Harper & Row in 1983.

Since then, he has published several collections, including The English Boat (Alice James Books, 2018), Drought-Adapted Vine (Alice James Books, 2015), Essay: A Critical Memoir (Omnidawn Publishing, 2015), The Bitter Withy (Alice James Books, 2009), A Thief of Strings (Alice James Books, 2007), Pennyweight Windows: New And Selected Poems (Alice James Books, 2005), My Mojave (Alice James Books, 2003), Arcady (Wesleyan University Press, 2002), There Are Three (Wesleyan University Press, 1998), Beautiful Shirt (Wesleyan University Press, 1994), Erasures (Wesleyan University Press, 1992), New Dark Ages (Wesleyan University Press, 1990), and The Gaza of Winter (University of Georgia Press, 1988).

He has also translated two volumes of the poetry of Guillaume Apollinaire: Alcools (1995) and The Self-Dismembered Man: Selected Later Poems (2004), both from Wesleyan University Press.

Revell's essays have appeared in The Art of Attention: A Poet's Eye (Graywolf Press, 2007) and Invisible Green: Selected Prose (OmniDawn, 2005)

His honors include a Pushcart Prize, the Shestack Prize, the Gertrude Stein Award, the PEN Center USA Award for poetry, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and from the Ingram Merrill and John Simon Guggenheim Memorial foundations.

Editor of Denver Quarterly from 1988-94, Revell has been a poetry editor of Colorado Review since 1996. He has taught at the Universities of Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, Alabama, and Denver. Since 1994, he has been a professor of English at the University of Utah, where he serves as director of the creative writing program.

Revell currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his wife, poet Claudia Keelan, and their son, Benjamin.

Selected Bibliography


The English Boat (Alice James Books, 2018)
Drought-Adapted Vine (Alice James Books, 2015)
Essay: A Critical Memoir (Omnidawn Publishing, 2015)
The Bitter Withy (Alice James Books, 2009)
A Thief of Strings (Alice James Books, 2007)
Pennyweight Windows: New And Selected Poems (Alice James Books, 2005)
My Mojave (Alice James Books, 2003)
Arcady (Wesleyan University Press, 2002)
There Are Three (Wesleyan University Press, 1998)
Beautiful Shirt (Wesleyan University Press, 1994)
Erasures (Wesleyan University Press, 1992)
New Dark Ages (Wesleyan University Press, 1990)
The Gaza of Winter (University of Georgia Press, 1988)

Donald Revell

By This Poet


Virgil Watched Them

Virgil watched them
Crossing the river away from him
The fathers without their children
Only a little while

Was he smiling
At Death the Golden Age

Falling backwards
In the Chinese restaurant
The tiniest fireman
I could see that he was smiling

Plenty of children in Arcady without fathers 
Our friends long before sundown

My Mojave

As of
A meteor
At mid-
Day: it goes
From there.

A perfect circle falls
Onto white imperfections.
(Consider the black road,
How it seems white the entire
Length of a sunshine day.)

Or I could say
Shadows and mirage
Compensate the world, 
Completing its changes
With no change.

In the morning after a storm,
We used brooms. Out front,
There was broken glass to collect.
In the backyard, the sand
Was covered with transparent wings. 
The insects could not use them in the wind
And so abandoned them. Why
Hadn't the wings scattered? Why
Did they lie so stilly where they'd dropped?
It can only be the wind passed through them.

Jealous lover,
Your desire
Passes the same way.

And jealous earth,
There is a shadow you cannot keep
To yourself alone.
At midday,
My soul wants only to go
The black road which is the white road.
I'm not needed 
Like wings in a storm, 
And God is the storm. 

Vietnam Epic Treatment

It doesn't matter
A damn what's playing—
In the dead of winter
You go, days of 1978 -
79, and we went
Because the soldiers were beautiful
And doomed as Asian jungles
Kept afire Christ-like
In the hopeless war
I did not go to in the end
Because it ended.

The 20th-century?
It was a war
Between peasants on the one side,
Hallucinations on the other.
A peasant is a fire that burns
But is not consumed.
His movie never ends.
It will be beautiful
Every winter of our lives, my love,
As Christ crushes fire into his wounds
And the wounds are a jungle.
Equally, no matter when their movies end,
Hallucinations destroy the destroyers.
That's all.
There has never been a President of the United States.

And the 21st-century?
Hallucination vs. hallucination
In cold battle, in dubious battle,
No battle at all because the peasants
Have gone away far
Into the lost traveler's dream,
Into a passage from Homer,
A woodcutter's hillside
Peacetime superstition movie.
On a cold night, Hector.
On a cold night, Achilles.
Around the savage and the maniac
The woodcutter draws a ring of fire.
It burns all winter long.
He never tires of it
And for good reason:
Every face of the flames is doomed and beautiful;
Every spark that shoots out into the freezing air
Is God's truth
Given us all over again
In the bitter weather of men's
Hallucinations. There has never been
A President of the United States.
There has never been a just war.
There has never been any life
Beyond this circle of firelight
Until now if now is no dream but an Asia.

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