“Fantasy Sports,” “Returning to Dirt,” “Instant Courage,” and “History Town.” Waxwing, Issue XV, 2019.
“Book of Disclosures.” Poetry, 2019.
“The Slimness of Our Chances” and “Untamed Thickets.” Court Green, 2019.
“Breakout Session,” “Hard Living,” and “The Haunted Minute.” Tinderbox Poetry Journal, 4.6, February 2018.
“Trouble Shirt.” Border Crossing, 7, Fall 2017.
Mary Biddinger is the author of six full-length poetry collections, including Small Enterprise and Partial Genius, both with Black Lawrence Press. She teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Akron and NEOMFA program, and edits the Akron Series in Poetry for the University of Akron Press. Poems have recently appeared in Court Green, Poetry, Tupelo Quarterly, and Waxwing, among others. Biddinger has been the recipient of three Individual Excellence Awards in poetry from the Ohio Arts Council, a National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship, and the 2019 mid-career Cleveland Arts Prize in literature. She is currently at work on a new collection of prose poems, and a manuscript of small poems about ordinary things. Follow her at @marybid on Twitter for updates and occasional poetry prompts.
I was born in California but grew up in a number of
Midwestern locales, including Chicago and the Detroit suburbs.
I love the Summit County Metro Parks in the Akron area and recommend them to anyone who will listen. They are a wonderful resource for all, but especially valuable from a writer’s perspective, since getting under some trees can help unleash inspiration.
I always remind my students that ultimately their work belongs to them, regardless of what workshop peers or instructors might say. If you feel very strongly about an image or title or turn of phrase that others don’t feel the same about, keep it. Many enduring works of art broke rules and failed to delight their audiences at the time.
For some reason I need to turn a bunch of lights on (like, an overhead light with three bulbs and a desk lamp, too) in order to focus on creative writing. I also need to wear earplugs, because I have noisy kids and pets. I guess this puts me in a very bright and quiet zone. For whatever reason, it works, so I am not going to tinker with it.
My favorite word is “penultimate,” because the penultimate stanza in a poem is often the finest.
I saw Sharon Olds read in Chicago in the late 1990s, and had never heard her voice before (the internet didn’t include author reading clips back then). Suddenly I had a voice to connect to the poems that I had loved for so long. It was truly memorable event.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated and eat some protein-rich snacks. Do not be afraid to say hello to the table staff for journals or presses that you like. If you are feeling overwhelmed, stop by the University of Akron Press table because we are nice and love to chat (and we have buttons and beautiful books). If worried about buying too many books, consider shipping them back via a postal store, rather than cramming them in your baggage.
I have four cats and two dogs, all rescues. At AWP, frequently friends and acquaintances stop by the University of Akron Press table to lament the fact that my creamsicle tabby cat, Klaus, is not attending the conference with me. He has gained quite the literary following, thanks to his photos on Instagram and Facebook. To this, he is very much indifferent.