Thursday, 31 January 2008

The conference begins! (just)

It's done. "The Transatlantic Writer: Challenges and Strategies" panel ran smoothly from 9-10:15 a.m. this morning NY time, with an array of interesting papers. At first it looked like we'd only have as many audience members as panelists (not surprising given that we were in the first panel slot of the conference and first thing in the morning), but ultimately we ended up with about 15 and received a few good questions for discussion.

Next I took a stroll about the bookfair. Oh, I love the bookfair. I picked up the latest issue of Rain Taxi, looked at Peter Gizzi's latest from Wesleyan with the hope of having the money to buy it later, glanced over the fondly familiar titles at the Shearsman table, and was surprised to see quite a number of journals I'd not heard of before. I look forward to a closer survey later, when I have more time.

The last couple days have been fairly quiet. I made it to the National Museum of the American Indian on Tuesday, joined the Bath Spa crowd for dinner at Remi, and introduced Tim Liardet and his son Joe to El Centro, where I had dinner on my own Monday night. Tim, Joe and I enjoyed their delicious house margaritas, made with Herradura tequila (a recent acquaintance), and had a great time. Last night, dinner was at the Red Eye Grill, which specializes in seafood; everyone shared perfect guacamole and blue corn chips as a starter, and my meal was an again perfect dish, of scallops with grilled vegetables and a tomato coulis.

This afternoon I'm manning Bath Spa's booth with Tim, then attending the Russell Edson tribute with Mr. Edson himself, James Tate, Charles Simic, and Robert Bly--I can hardly wait!

Monday, 28 January 2008

New York, Day 3--On to Midtown

Day 2 in New York was much more relaxed. I spent the first part of the day turning the first draft of my conference paper, "A Transatlantic Poet, or My British Bifurcation," into the second draft, and I composed the bios for all the panelists. Mid-afternoon, I strolled up St. Nicholas Avenue to 180th and didn't see a single white face. The shops were offering cheap clothes, suitcases, etc. and there were fresh food markets on every street. I went to Taquiera Mexicana de Los Angeles for lunch, and in spite of the waitress's complete lack of English, I managed to order a carnitas taco (scrumptious) and a chicken tamale, along with the requisite Negra Modelo. Later, back at the apartment, I wrote a poem (day 7 of my spree complete), and early evening Lytton returned.

Lytton and I took a long walk uptown to a restaurant called 107 West, where I had a delicious chargrilled chicken breast with a wonderful spicy tomato-y sauce spread over the top, mashed potatoes, and greens. We headed back toward his apartment and stopped in at a bar called Coogan's, where, over one too many pints, we "set the poetry world to rights" (Lytton's words). It's such a pleasure to talk to a fellow transatlantic poet about the continuities and discontinuities between the UK and US poetry scenes, as well as update one another on our home culture's developments.

Today I've come to Midtown, where I'm staying at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers and enjoying the quality of it all.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Susan Wheeler's Ledger

I bought Susan Wheeler's Ledger last night and finished it today. While I've enjoyed previous works, I found this the most engaging and accomplished; the final poem, "The Debtor in the Convex Mirror," is a tour de force. A few passages from the poem appear below (though I can't replicate her lineation and spacing), but to have any sense of the piece, you must go to the poem itself.

"In the country of individuation, I struck out like a match"

"the debtor--about to receive knell to what peace he might otherwise recall--worries his page"

"how far, indeed, can the soul swim out through the eyes and still return safely to its nest? That it be possible I cannot leave."

"Sometimes a welling up: I've lost thought in images. Night: a blank. The stars just stars."

"we tread with the intensity of hounds"

"The soul negotiates its right of way. O consciousness, but not without a bargain struck without."

New York, Day 1 (highlight: Susan Howe's reading)

I arrived Friday, to be fair, but as I arrived about 5:15 on account of Supershuttle's ineptitude, it wasn't a day so much as a night. Lytton and I went for dinner at a hole-in-the-wall (in a downbeat, not romantic, sense) Mexican restaurant, where I had mole poblano for the first time in years, washed down with Negra Modelo. From there we went to a lovely wine bar, In Vino Veritas, where, as we were already drinking beer, we tried some Belgian varieties. I wish I remember what mine was called; the description of it suggested whispers? of apple and pear, I was intrigued, and it was delicious.

On our return Lytton and I talked for a while before he headed for a late gathering with some friends (something that would never happen in London, given tube closing times) and I looked at some lit mags for a while before crashing (and crashing is the word).

This morning I woke just before six a.m., and from the sixth floor window, I could see the city below, with the sky dark overhead and the streets lit by shop signs and streetlights below. I drafted a poem, "Pleurisy," before going back to sleep for a couple hours. When I woke again, I read around a bit before drafting another short piece. Today's day 6 of my writing spree (where I write or must average a poem a day), and I feel quickened. Also, with the regularity and frequency of my writing during a spree, I tend to vary more in my shapes/forms; today, for example, I found myself writing in short-lined couplets, something I haven't done for some time.

Lytton took me to a nearby diner for breakfast: $3.50 for eggs, toast, a thimbleful (close) of juice, coffee, and breakfast potatoes. Later, we headed for Soho and the Bowery area, stopping in at Housing Works Bookstore and Cafe, where I found a (supposedly) used copy of Mary Jo Bang's latest, Elegy. From there we walked to St. Mark's Bookshop, where I bought a book I've long meant to read, Susan Howe's My Emily Dickinson, recently republished with a new introduction by Eliot Weinberger.

Walking out of St. Mark's, I decided on a $100 book, $50 magazine budget for the trip. I'm going on the illusion of having U.S. money from having transferred money to my U.S. account just before Christmas, to cover my expenses on that trip and pay as many future student loan payments as possible. This illusion was probably enhanced by this week's receipt of a $100 check from The New Republic for "Postmarked."

For lunch Lytton and I stopped at a falafel place that actually sells baked falafels. With a fair dose of tahini, that balanced out the dryness of the chickpea pucks, the falafel was pretty good.

At 3:30 Lytton and I arrived at The Bowery Poetry Club. It's as cool as it sounds; I really like the atmosphere of its performance space. We were there to hear Susan Howe read, and it was good we were there early for close seats, as the place was standing room only by the time the event began.

Susan Howe read perfectly. I cannot think of a single tiny thing I would have had her do differently. She read first from Pierce Arrow; next from The Midnight, which she described as being centered on "her mother, insomnia, sewing," etc. I need to buy or borrow a copy, to read for myself the wonderful section on the bird woman (don't try imagining what this means in advance, unless you want your expectations mocked by the creative power of the work).

Lastly, she read from her new book, Souls of the Labadie Tract, and from that the poem/sequence, "118 Westerly Terrace," about Wallace Stevens' house and what it was for her to be in it. I think my mouth hung open as I admired what I heard and waited, fully engaged, to hear how the piece would unfold. That's the standard to aim for, I thought.

After the reading, Lytton and I parted, he to visit his girlfriend, I to tromp about, which lead me about Soho and into Greenwich Village. Amid this tromping I came to Mercer Street Books, where I found a painfully strong poetry section. The first "narrowing down" resulted in a stack of seven books, at which point I asked myself, Which ones do I absolutely have to buy? The answer was Susan Wheeler's Ledger, which I've been wanting to read since I learned of its existence (I've been following her since her first book, Bag 'o' Diamonds; for those of you who don't know her work, Ledger is her fourth); and Brenda Iijima's Animate, Inanimate Aims. I was curious about her book as it's a recent Litmus Press title, and she turned out to be one of the organizers of today's reading. We met when I was waiting to have Howe sign some books, and I said I'd try to make it to her signing at AWP. I was startled, less than an hour after meeting Iijima, to find a copy of her book.

I had some fairly good Chinese food for dinner before heading back to Washington Heights, the area in which Lytton lives. Nearby I picked up a bottle of Chilean reserve Cabernet, Santa Rita, luckily delicious, and climbed the six floors to Lytton's apartment (yes, six, and I've been up them four times in just over 24 hours). It's 11 here, I'm feeling sleepy, and I'll continue reading Ledger (I began reading it on the restaurant and continued on the subway; I'm about halfway through already) and perhaps do some writing. I've had a perfect day.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Business class?

A third-year mature student of mine sent me this message the other day. I thought it was so funny I'd share it (with his permission). I mentioned I was leaving for New York later in the week and this was his response:

"I was looking at the ny flights today...232 quid if i wanted to leave wednesday (no doubt you'll be going business class now you have a publishing deal)"


Tuesday, 22 January 2008

The Transatlantic Poet

A week Thursday I'll be talking at the AWP conference about an issue I've faced as a transatlantic writer, but the difficulty is in narrowing the paper down to one issue! For example, just this morning I was writing an email to Alan at Leafe, listing the corrections I'd made to the attached file of Yet. I began to write that in "The Occupation of Iraq" I'd changed a spelling from American to British English when I recalled that the poem has an American speaker; this identification is crucial to the piece, so in the end I restored the American spelling.

There are larger issues as well. Perhaps the most significant decision I've made relative to this position has been to bring out The Tethers first (though Divining for Starters was already accepted), given the polarization of avant garde and mainstream poetries in the UK. Or is that not so much about my being a transatlantic writer as my having produced two rather different manuscripts in this polarized landscape?

The only benefit I see is my participation in two countries' poetry cultures. In 2003 and '04 I focused my submissions almost exclusively on UK magazines, to enter the conversation, as it were, and now I think the submissions are about 60/40 or 70/30 UK/US--though that may change a bit after I raid the AWP bookfair (my idea of heaven) for interesting magazines!

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Anthology, part 1 of probably many

Late last August, I proposed an anthology of UK women's avant garde poetries to Shearsman editor Tony Frazer. My desire to edit the anthology arose from a personal desire to have one, to learn more about the range of these poetries and bring them together for sharing with students and fellow poets who had expressed interest in such work. While Maggie O'Sullivan's anthology Out of Everywhere: Linguistically Innovative Poetry by Women in North America and the UK proved an important starting point, I wanted to understand more about UK poetry in and of itself, and I wanted to update my knowledge of what was happening here.

I began by writing to poets whose work I admired and trawling the internet for other UK women poets I may not have heard of; I also wrote and spoke to other poets, female and male, to ask for recommendations. Then I came upon Juliana Spahr and Stephanie Young's "Numbers Trouble" (thanks to Chicago Review for making a PDF of the article available) and Catherine Wagner's forum, "Post-Marginal Positions: Women and the UK Experimental/Avant-Garde Poetry Community," which made me contextualise the work I wanted to do to an extent I hadn't before. Responses in Wagner's forum clarified the value of such an anthology for others in both the UK and US, while Spahr and Young's essay led me to reflect on the potential interpretations of such an anthology. For me, the result was that I realised I needed to develop an extended account of my reasons for the anthology's publication and contents, both for myself and for readers.

Now it's January '08, and I'm aiming for a February 2009 publication date so I can propose (and be ready for) an anthology launch reading at the AWP conference in Chicago, with a subsequent launch to occur in London. Of the established poets, Geraldine Monk and Maggie O'Sullivan have declined to participate, and I have not had any response from Denise Riley. Alternately, I am pleased that Redell Olsen, Frances Presley, Harriet Tarlo, Caroline Bergvall, and Wendy Mulford have all committed to the project, and such emerging or mid-career poets as Andrea Brady, Marianne Morris, Emily Critchley, Elisabeth Bletsoe, Zoe Skoulding, Frances Kruk, Isobel Armstrong, Carol Watts, Anne Blonstein, Claire Crowther, and others have also said yes (and I already have impressive selections from Bletsoe, Kruk, and Watts). Another dozen have work with me under serious consideration, and I am still trying to find a handful of others. I have also had a good number of open submissions from my calls on several listservs. This part of the process has been exciting, reading the range of work and feeling that the work in the anthology will be of high quality. It's a book I think others will enjoy reading, and that pleases me.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Peter Cole's "One to Bet: A Jerusalem Pamphlet"

A few days ago I finished reading Peter Cole's What Is Doubled: Poems 1981-1998 (Shearsman, 2005), and tonight I copied favourite passages into my journal, page after page--my hand aches!

The work I admire most is the prose poetry sequence, "One to Bet: A Jerusalem Pamphlet," surely one of the best prose poetry sequences I've ever read. Of course that raises the question, How many prose poetry sequences have you read, Carrie? I'm not sure, but I think I'll continue believing this to be one of the best prose poetry sequences I've read for a long time to come.

Here are a few quotations from that sequence (which fail to give any sense of the power of the whole):

"Conducive to ambling, the street, like the sound of its name, was something of a refuge for me from all things linear...."

"In the fin-de-siècle suck of unknowing...our increasingly pathetic idea of an origin."

"Priests, then, in the evolution of tribes that number stand-up comics among them also. So it is that one comes upon curiously vaudeville qualities in the most serious of fifth or eighth century rabbinical texts."

"...where one always pays twice, in the unfair economies of song."

"And thinking is infinite, and the angel a ladder leaned against it."

"So that the word itself, ahava [love], is like the medieval wheel of fortune that spins one into the vertigo of the full circle in motion. In medieval picture books the figures on the wheel cling as desperately when they near the top as when they begin their descent toward the foul-smelling slough of despond."

"...establishing the Edenic origin of the flinch between innocence and wit along the shifting length of the serpent."

Thursday, 10 January 2008


Hurrah! Alan Baker, editor of Leafe Books, wrote the other day to say that the proofs of my pamphlet were coming in the post, so I expected a sheaf of pages. Instead, I received a mock-up of it, with Susan Mackervoy's evocative etchings gracing the front and back covers. It's exciting to have Yet's publication around the corner and a pleasure to think I'll once again have a proper selection of my work to share. I also feel, rereading the manuscript, that it coheres, with a poetics of consciousness interweaving with a sociopolitical sensibility. (I hope that statement makes sense to someone besides me.)

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

The Poetry Reading Drinking Game

I think this game is hilarious (click on the heading for this entry to go to it). I'm tempted to choose a few rules and find a fellow player the next time I'm going to a reading where either 1) I don't expect the work to be of high quality or 2) I'm going to hear a particular poet I admire, but I'm not fond of the work of the other poets reading. Thanks to Steven Schroeder for posting it.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Mushrooms, anyone?

Fellow admirers of Williams, cummings, O'Hara, Issa, and/or Basho may share my enjoyment of Harry Gilonis's playful "Forty Fungi," published in the new onedit. I especially appreciate the way Gilonis works among multiple registers.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Natalie Merchant, Troubadour

For a wonderful review of Merchant's current show in New York, read this article, "Songs from an Unrecorded Minstrel," in today's New York Times (you'll need to register to access it). I've been following Merchant since her 10,000 Maniacs days--I even attended a concert she gave at The Greek Theater in L.A. in the mid-90s, which is saying something given that I think I can count the concerts I've attended on my hands. I'd love an album of the reviewed concert--here's hoping a few good recordings make it on YouTube.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Forthcoming Issues

In the next few months, my poems are due to appear in The Rialto, Salamander (US), Stand, and The Warwick Review, while my pamphlet, Yet, will be released by Leafe Press in late February.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

The new Selected Poems of Robert Creeley

This excellent review by Susan Stewart (a fine poet herself) makes me wish it were my birthday already, so I could put this book at the top of the list. The review also serves as a thoughtful introduction to the poet's work, for those of you unfamiliar with it.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Obama Takes Iowa

This news will cheer my father--Obama's his favourite presidential candidate. It certainly raises my spirits, though at the moment I'm unsure whether I favour Obama or Edwards.

Thursday, 3 January 2008


Here in Normal, it's still only the second of January, and both my father and sister Sandra are at St Joseph's Hospital in Bloomington. My father has come down with another severe infection, and as his infections have tended to go into his bloodstream quickly, his doctor had him admitted. My mother, Matt, and I saw the ambulance take him away earlier this evening. Sandra has been experiencing an array of problems, including significant weight loss, and it isn't clear whether the cause is her MS or something else. It's been a mixed visit, and I feel awkward about coming back tomorrow with matters at this pass, but there's nothing to be done.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Divining for Starters (Shearsman, 2011)

Launched in London
on 15 February 2011, 7:30 p.m.,
at Swedenborg Hall

In 1999, living in southern California, Carrie Etter began a series of poems focusing on our cultural obsession with creating beginnings and origins—a new day, a new chapter, a fresh start—called Divining for Starters. Twelve years and a move to England later, here are the best poems from that work in progress. They join poems exploring the environment, the erotic, politics, and selfhood. Employing a poetics of consciousness in an array of forms, Divining for Starters ranges widely with poems at once rigorous and delicate. You can buy it from the splendid Foyle's (UK) or The Book Depository for free delivery anywhere else in the world.

"Carrie Etter catches the drift and pushes it lightly into her courses. Lilting now, her courses swerve between the reaches of the American mid-West and the claggy ruts of England, and their erotics are those of skin and fold, of elegant runs and breaks. Carrie Etter's poems give the feel of pleasure; they take unpredictable turns. When all about would be stipulated, Divining for Starters points heedfully to the possible."

--John Wilkinson

"Carrie Etter’s wonderful new book, Divining for Starters, graphs a crop of new forms, swerving from blanks to bliss. Taking the long view of time, Etter writes poems that can at once be a species of call and response (erotics of language), a particulate trace of how one writes, a 'True Story', a physics of animals eating, or a vigil for stillness. She tunes into some kind of new latinate downhome radio, or maps the milky way, post-pastoral in its graphology.

Memory is here, ('fireweed for acres') as are breathing trees, fields across the world - always with a immediacy - a sense that poems are appearing right before our eyes as we eagerly approach 'the entrancing right margin'."
--Lee Ann Brown


"Carrie Etter's second collection demonstrates a remarkable ear and intelligence. Combining lyricism and experimentation, Divining for Starters is confident, poised, and at times quite startling."

"...these poems are also finely wrought and immensely sensual--the poet 'fingering my small store of words / held on the tongue' ('Divining for Starters (53)'). Even as closure is endlessly deferred, the poems are gathered together by a careful patterning of sound and sense."

"This is of course not simply the hypnotic dream of a train moving through the night, but the drift of language from any fixed reference point. And it is this carefully controlled and haunting slipperiness that makes Carrie Etter's second collection so extraordinary." 

Sarah Jackson, New Walk

"...these lean, fleeting poems operate outside linear time, and outside traditional literary concepts of the start, of progress, and of climax. In this sense, Etter not only subverts our "obsession with beginnings" but gains intimacy with the reader, allowing us to keep pace with her thoughts, and to slip in and out of the atmospheres and sensations she has created."
--Anna Lewis, Magma

"This is a poetry of elegance and grace, of things spoken and unspoken, the known and almost known and the intuited, and it's quite stunning."

Individual published poems (selected)

A partial list.

Poems are presently forthcoming in The Hardy Review, The Iowa Review, The Jewish Quarterly, Poetry Wales, Shearsman, and Tears in the Fence.

In magazines

Alaska Quarterly Review

"The Son." (16.3-4: 1998, 237)

Angel Exhaust

"Foolish foolish," "The View." (20: Spring 2009, 60-1)


"New Hampshire's New Bishop," "Treeline," "Divining for Starters (29)." (6: Fall 2006, 107-09)

Barrow Street

"Imagined Sons 2: The Birthmother, The Adoptive Mother & Their Surfer Boy." (Summer 2003, 75)

Bombay Gin

"Paternal," "Sacrificed as the Girl." (35.1: 2009, 152-54)

Cannot Exist

"Seed," "Divining for Starters (54)," "Divining for Starters (57)." (3: 2008, 48-50)


"The Honeymoon of Our Attraction." (41: Spring 2005, 128)

Court Green

"(untitled--Dear Paul)." (6: 2009, 115)

Critical Quarterly

"Sissy Jupe's Bedroom." (46.1: April 2004, 39)

Critical Survey

"Short Break." (16.3: 2004, 94)

Free Verse

"Cycle," "The Passage." (11: Winter 2006)

"The Reclamation." (11: January-June 2009)


"Red Acre," "Infidel's Prayer," "Midnight, Illinois." (22: May 2003)

Leviathan Quarterly

"Horace's Wet Clothes." (7: March 2003, 51)

The Liberal

"Were It Eden." (VI: Sept/Oct 2005, 29)
"Vermilion." (VII: Feb/Mar 2006, 17)
"Collecting the Ridges." (VIII: July/Aug 2006, 19)
"Dream of a Field," "Almandine." (Autumn 2007, 17, 49)

The Los Angeles Review

"The Perfect Box Is Not a Box." (2004)


"Almandine," "The Doctrine of Assent." (6: 2000, 54-55)


"The Trapeze Artist's Dear John Letter," "Almost." (14: 2003, 54-55)
"The Wake." (15: 2004, 11)


"Celestina Sommer,
Cause Celebre." (19: 2003, 33)

The New Republic

"The Colony of Us." (228.4613: 16 June 2003, 30)
"Postmarked." (237.4825: 19 Nov 2007, 46)

New Welsh Review

"The Drain's Trickle," "The Long Night." (59: Spring 2003, 59-60)
"The Score," "Crowd of One." (2004?)
"The Dinner Party," "Hardscrabble." (75: Spring 2007, 54)
"A Birthmother's Catechism," "A Birthmother's Catechism," "Painting the Marsh." (83: Spring 2009, 67-9)
"Dolce Vita." (84: Summer 2009, 63)


"First Summer," "The Love Plot." (7: 2009, 58-9)


"Subterfuge for the Unrequitable." (last issue, 2004)

Orange Coast Review (all second publications after first apperances in UK journals)

"The Wake," "Occasional Poem," "Americana, Station by Station." (2006, 99-101)
"San Fernando Valley Love Song," "As If to Say." (2007, 69-70)
"The Letter." (2008, 23)
"Siren," "Vermilion." (2009, 23, 62)

Painted, spoken

"Divining for Starters (53)," "Divining for Starters (56)." 20 (2009).

Poetry Ireland Review

"Convalescence." (85: 2006, 42)
"Birthday." (90: 2007, 22)
"The Meal." (94: Summer 2008, 44-45)
“Homecoming.” (96: 2008, 38-9)
"Solitaries," "Blue Coat," "Melancholia." (99: October 2009, 14-16)

Poetry London

"Over the Thames." (62: Spring 2009, 4)

PN Review

"The Lengthening Winter," "Convicted," "The Day Will Not Rhyme," "Water's Edge," "The Vantage." (155/30.3: Jan-Feb 2004, 55-56)
"Here Comes the Sun," "Outpost," "Occasional Poem." (162/31.4: Mar-Apr 2005, 58)
"Imagined Sons 1: First Son," "Imagined Sons 2: The Birthmother, The Adoptive Mother & Their Surfer Boy," "Imagined Sons 3: At the Fifties Cafe," "Imagined Sons 4: Introducing Myself as His (The First Supermarket Dream)," "Imagined Sons 5: The Friend (Part 1)," "Imagined Sons 6: The Magician," "Imagined Sons 7: The Second Supermarket Dream," "Imagined Sons 8: A British University," "Imagined Sons 9: Seed Corn," "Imagined Sons 10: The Friend (Part 2)," "Imagined Sons 11: Mexico," "Imagined Sons 12: The Courthouse." (175: May/June 2007: 28-30)

Poetry Review

"The Cult of the Eye." (92.4: Winter 2002/3, 16)
"Fin de Siecle," "Pathetic Fallacy as Necessary," "Escalation." (93.2: 2003, 12-14)
"The Taboo," "Land-lock." (93.3: 2003, 14-15)
"Election." (94.3: 2004, 49)
"Biopsy." (97.3: 2007, 51)

Poetry Wales

"Cycling to the World's Edge," "Winter Solstice," "Fence of Pines." (32.4: April 1997, 7-8)
"San Fernando Valley Love Song." (39.1: 2003, 39)
"Days in Mlada Boleslav," "The Assenting Castaway." (2008)
"Arcadia, or Something Like It," "Soporific Red." (44.4: Spring 2009, 10)


"Quartet," "Beyond Any Power," "Eurydice," "The Ache," "Into the Rain," "Adoption Birthday," "The Allotment," "Journey by Train." (4: 2003, 55-60)

The Reader

"Early Spring." (26: 2007, 37)

The Republic of Letters

"Imagined Sons 15: The Butcher," "Imagined Sons 16: The Third Supermarket Dream," "Imagined Sons 18: The Pilot," "Imagined Sons 19: The Lone Star State," "Imagined Sons 22: At the Bunch of Grapes," "Imagined Sons 24: A Birthday," "Imagined Sons 25: Only Son," "Imagined Sons 26: The Fourth Supermarket Dream," "Imagined Sons 27: Folk Night," "Imagined Sons 29: Narcissus," "Imagined Sons 30: The Fifth Supermarket Dream," "Imagined Sons 34: The Pound," "Imagined Sons 35: Night Patrols," "Imagined Sons 37: The Sixth Supermarket Dream," "Imagined Sons 41: Drury Lane," "Imagined Sons 49: DJ," "Indian Summer," "Ode to Raggedy Ann," "The Violet Hour." (19: Winter 2008-9, 30-32)

The Rialto

"A Mile from the Cornfield." (55: May 2004, 8)

"Four Hours from the Coast." (59: Midwinter 2005/06, 52)
"Again Tonight, My Sister." (64: 2008, 35)


"Anniversary" (4: Spring 2009, 31)


"Gardens," "I Bear Your Ashes." (5.2: 1998, 4-5)
"The Parents." (6.2: 1999, 59)
"The Prayer, or The Bike Path from Venice Beach to Malibu." (7.2: 2001, 9)
"Outside of Town," "After Class." (8.2: 2003: 42-43)
"Once." (11.2: 2006, 46)
"Leash." (12.2: 2007, 133)
"The First Day of Detasseling," "The Five." (2008)

Seneca Review

"Communion," "Her Answers." (26.1: Spring 1996, 51-52)
"The Articulate, Speechless." (29.1: 1999, 71)
"Kassandra." (32.2: 2002, 50)
"The Name," "The Lovers." (34.2: Fall 2004, 50-2)


"Seven and Ten," "The Marriage." (5: 2007, 114-15)


"Divining for Starters (6)," "Divining for Starters (8)," "Divining for Starters (9)," "Divining for Starters (10)," "Divining for Starters (13)." (51: 2002, 19-20)
"Ginger," "Divining for Starters (16)," "Another Obituary for Poetry." (54: Spring 2003, 17-18)
"More Than Bone," "Divining for Starters (17)," "Divining for Starters (18)," "Divining for Starters (19)," "Divining for Starters (21)." (60: Autumn 2004, 18-20)

"The National Muse," "Gathering (1)," "Want," "The Fever Box." (65/66: Winter 2005/6, 58-59)
"Inheritance," "The Final Performance," "Law of Gravity," "Signified." (67/68: Spring/Summer 2006, 55-56)
"The Occupation of Iraq," "My Early Days in the British Academy," "Divining for Starters (36)," "Divining for Starters (42)," "Divining for Starters (43)." (73/74: Winter 2007/08, 5-8)
"McLean County Highway 39," "Divining for Starters (50)," "Divining for Starters (52)." (2008)


"Estate Management," "Goldenrod, foot by yard," "Under beer and on the humid," "The Return." (11/12: July-October 2001)
"Gingersome," "The Missing Roses," "Divining for Starters (7)." (16: 2002)


"The Separation," "The Sty." (6.4 and 7.1/181: 200, 29-30)
"A Birthmother's Catechism," "The Day After," "The Last Day of My Visit." (8.4/188: 2009, 18-19)

The Tall Lighthouse Review

"After and Before," "When We." (2006)

Tenth Muse

"The Exquisite Deferral," "Steady as She Goes," "Promised." (12: 2002, 14-15)
"Three Statues," "Unspoken Rather Than Undone," "Chronophobia (5)." (13: 2005, 15-16)
"Retraced," "Divining for Starters (23)," "Turning the Page." (14: 2006, 31-32)


"Americana, Station by Station," "Object Lesson, June." (20-21: 2002, 19)

The Times Literary Supplement

"The Daughters of Prospero." (5211: 14 Feb 2003, 7)
"Late Winter, Early Year." (5213: 28 Feb 2003, 11)
"The Review." (5244: 3 Oct 2003, 4)
"Talking with Beccaria." (5264: 20 Feb 2004, 19)
"Seaborne." (5271: 9 Apr 2004, 11)
"The Bonds." (5298: 15 Oct 2004, 6)
"Axes for Crutches." (5312: 21 Jan 2005, 10)
"Citizenship." (7 Oct 2005)
"Magnum Opus," "The World at Dusk." (5373: 24 Mar 2006, 27)
"The Diagnosis." (5417: 26 Jan 2007, 15)
"His Pantoum." (5437: 15 June 2007, 14)
"The War's Fourth Year." (5438: 22 June 2007, 5)
"A Birthmother's Catechism (September 11, 1986)." (5450: 14 Sept 2007, 15)
"David Smith,
Wagon II, 1964." (5457: 2 Nov 2007, 31)
"Fear of Lightning." (5463: 14 Dec 2007, 29)
"Pleurisy." (2 May 2008)
"A Birthmother's Catechism (September 11, 2006)." (12 Dec 2008, 8)
"Pursuit, Dublin." (2009)

Under the Radar

"Summer Time," "Hat Box." (4: September 2009, 15-16)


"Paternal (3)." (7: 2009, 19)

The Warwick Review

"Prescription for the Impatient." (1.2: June 2007, 123)
"Siren." (2.1: March 2008, 44)
"The Tethers." (2008)
"The Reclamation." (3.2: June 2009, 105-6)

In anthologies (by year)

"Hand over Fist," "Okra."
GRAND PASSION: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond. Eds. Suzanne Lummis and Charles Harper Webb. Los Angeles, CA: Red Wind Books, 1995. 45-46

"Her Answers."
Anthology of Magazine Verse and Yearbook of American Poetry 1995/1996. Palm Springs, CA: Monitor Book Co., 1997.

"Sacred Ground," "The Birthmother's Handbook."
Starting Rumors: America's Next Generation of Writers. Grand Junction, CO: Pinyon Press, 1999. 49-51

"The Articulate, Speechless."
Incidental Buildings & Accidental Beauty: An Anthology of Orange County/Long Beach Poets. Huntington Beach, CA: Tebot Bach, 2001. 36.

"The Blue Horses," "Signing the Adoption Papers."
Beyond the Valley of Contemporary Poets: 2001 Anthology. Eds. Brendan Constantine and Amelie Frank. VCP Press, 2002. (unpaginated)

"Sunday Afternoon."
So Luminous the Wildflowers: An Anthology of California Poets. Ed. Paul Suntup. Huntington Beach, CA: Tebot Bach Press, 2003. 63.

"The Trapeze Artist's Dear John Letter."
The Forward Book of Poetry 2005. London: Forward/Faber, 2004. 83.

"Drought," "Divorce."
New Writing 14. Eds. Lavinia Greenlaw and Helon Habila. London: Granta, 2006. 145-6.

"The Bonds."
Blue Arc West: An Anthology of California Poets. Ed. Paul Suntup, Dima Hilal, and Mindy Nettifee. Huntington Beach, CA: Tebot Bach Press, 2006. 48.

"Collecting the Ridges."
All That Mighty Heart: London Poems. Ed. Lisa Russ Spaar. University of Virginia Press, 2008.

"The Forecast."
Feeling the Pressure: Poetry and Science of Climate Change." Ed. Paul Mundun. Berne, Switzerland: British Council, 2008. 19.

"The Daughters of Prospero."
Women's Work: Modern Women Poets Writing in English. Eds. Eva Salzman and Amy Wack. Brigend: Seren Books, 2008. 235

Forthcoming Readings, Classes and Talks


20 February 2010, "Publishing Your Poetry," The Poetry School, Bath

13 March 2010, "Publishing Your Poetry," The Poetry School, Manchester

NB: Readings for The Tethers will be listed only on that page.

The Tethers (Seren, June 2009)

Winner of the London New Poetry Award 2010, sponsored by Coffee-House Poetry and Cegin Productions, for the best first collection of poetry published in the UK and Ireland in the last year. Judge Daljit Nagra commented, "It’s rare to find a poet having quite so much fun with language and life as Carrie Etter. The poems perform acrobatics with forms as they are driven by the possibilities of words so each piece seems to arrive at its own unexpected and surprised ending. What’s most impressive is Etter’s restless mind that fetches odd allusions or steers off into tangents in a way that always compels us to make the journey. It’s also rare to find a poet who can persistently find joy through suffering with such an assured lightness of touch which defies its lucid surface. A persistently witty and beautifully moving book that is carefully themed and linguistically patterned so that it feels more like the collection of an experienced poet." You can buy it from Foyle's (UK) here or from The Book Depository for free delivery anywhere else in the world.


Tuesday, 9 June 2009, 7 p.m. London launch! Fyvie Hall, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW. Come to enjoy some wine and a short reading.

Thursday, 11 June 2009, 8 p.m. Bath launch! Bath Spa University Reading Series, Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute, Queen Square, Bath. Reading with Lee Harwood.

Saturday, 20 June 2009. The University of Warwick, Coventry. Day event featuring The Warwick Review in conjunction with the university's alumni day. Claire Crowther and Tiffany Atkinson will also read and talk about their work.

Sunday, 23 August 2009, 7 p.m. Myopic Books Poetry Reading Series, Chicago. Reading with James Shea, author of Star in the Eye (Fence Books, 2008).

Wednesday, 9 September 2009, 4:20 p.m.. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Student Union, Terre Haute, Indiana.

Thursday, 10 September 2009, 6 p.m.. Rachael's Cafe, 300 E. Third St., Bloomington, Indiana.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009. Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009. The Weston-super-Mare Arts Festival, Heritage Cafe, 3 Wadham Street, Weston-super-Mare. Doors open at 7 p.m., dinner begins at 7:30.

Thursday, 24 September 2009. Salisbury Poetry Cafe, Salisbury Arts Centre. The event includes an open mic session.

Friday, 9 and Saturday, 10 October 2009. St Helier, Jersey. A reading on Friday night followed by a workshop on Saturday afternoon.

Monday, 2 November 2009. Alchemy Reading and Performance Series, The Globe Cafe, Prague. I'll also run some writing workshops at The English College in Prague earlier in the day.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009. Marlborough College, Marlborough. A workshop with students, a reading, and a dinner.

Thursday, 3 December 2009, 7:30 p.m. Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff. Reading with Vuyelwa Carlin, followed by an open mic.

Thursday, 4 February 2010, 8 p.m. Fire River Poets, Brewhouse Theatre, Taunton. Includes an open mic. £5.

Monday, 8 February 2010, 7 p.m. The University of Plymouth's Peninsula Arts literature series. Reading with Jane Griffiths. £5, concessions £3, students, friends and faculty free.

Monday, 22 February 2010, 8 p.m. The Coffee House Poetry Series at The Troubadour, London. "Escarmouches II: War of Independence" with Alan Jenkins, Roddy Lumsden, and Molly Peacock. Reading and discussion of the poetries of the US and UK, how they interact and differ. £7, concessions £6.

Saturday, 27 February 2010, 4:30 p.m. "New Narratives," Annual Academi Literary Conference, Pontfaen, Wales. Reading with Gillian Clarke, Joe Dunthorne, and Kathryn Gray, followed by question and answer session.

Thursday, 11 March 2010, 8 p.m. International Women's Poetry, Lauderdale House, London. Reading with Annie Freud and Shanta Acharya. £5, £3 concessions.

Thursday, 25 March 2010, 8 p.m. E.g. poetry, The Red Roaster Cafe, Brighton. North American poetry night with Naomi Foyle and Todd Swift, with open mic. £5, concs £4.

Saturday, 3 April 2010, 2-3:30 p.m. The Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery, New York City. Reading with Molly Peacock. $8.

For further readings, please see Readings & Events.


"The Tethers marks the arrival of an original talent and is surely one of the most ambitious and accomplished first collections in recent years."

Ben Wilkinson, The Times Literary Supplement

"Carrie Etter is an American expatriate, and her poetry is rootless in the best sense: it moves over wide-ranging territory and seems able to make itself at home anywhere. Although The Tethers is her first collection, Etter fully possesses her material," evincing "intelligence and authority."

Paul Batchelor, The Times (22 August 2009)

Carrie Etter's "marvellously pithy and eloquent collection bursts with repressed urges and shudders [...]. There is electricity in these poems, and a tactile, nervous energy. [...] The writing is keen and intimate, tainted with incipient regret, and more than a hint of the terrible power of recollection to distract and distort."

Richard Gwyn, Poetry Wales

"Etter's neat, tight free verse holds back from expressing explicit emotion, letting the reader feel it instead. [...] The best poems try to pinpoint consciousness changing moment by moment, and have their own integrity, as in 'Crowd of One':

For minutes, sometimes hours, a single tap
deftly splits the egg, yolk and white slide out,
the shell closes on air and arcs
in its flight to the bin. Synapses fire palpably.
Regret is elsewhere.
Light suffuses the room,
without any discrete source.

Meditating on this, the reader summons images of fertility, of Annunciation. You have to listen very hard to Etter's subtleties, and then your own answering imagination repays you."

Michele Roberts, The Warwick Review

"There is much to admire in Carrie Etter's The Tethers too. [...] hers is an assured, confident voice. There is a wide variety here in both form and subject matter and I particularly enjoyed the many pieces with a literary flavour; the prose poems, those which put a new spin on relationships and the ones which display flashes of wit. I also admired the range of shapes on the page and the spareness and economy."

Carole Bromley, The North

"In remarking the constancy of water, Etter overturns Catullus' cliché: that the words of women should be written on water, because both are untethered and trustless. Like "Millais' Ophelia" (another fine observational poem), Etter knows the weight of water, its bound composition. In "The Bonds", where the poem's title resonates through multiple discourses from chemistry to "the -ologies of more elusive chemistries", water reflects back history's constancy in mutability, coded through language's adaptable clarity, words like water's surface revealing hidden treasures in their depths. Findings rich and strange arrive with each re-reading."

Sophie Mayer, Delirium's Library blog (10 June 2009)


"Many contemporary poets blow away in the gale of nihil and nonsense that life is becoming, but some still try to weather it – Carrie Etter is one of the few to have found strong roots to cling to, and one of the very few in whose lines one can discern the flesh-and-blood figure of a witness wholly alive, alert to the evidence, unsparing but unjudging, getting it down by heart. Sorrowing, glad, graceful, The Tethers is a rich and significant debut."

Glyn Maxwell

"The Tethers is full of highly intelligent, often finely cadenced and in the best sense measured poetry. Carrie Etter deftly fuses accents of modern America and England with a strong sense of the Classics. Nuanced, lyrical, occasionally humorous, these poems reveal time after time an acute sense of 'the rise and fall of what we cannot moor.'"

"Terse, wry, discreetly metaphysical, Carrie Etter's poems have the economy of good jokes. She touches her subjects obliquely, with tact: the fury and the mire are acknowledged but held at bay by this art of highly intelligent suggestion. A first book to be remarked."

"There is a fierce Gothic energy behind the determined and deceptively suave tone of these poems. Imaginative in language, setting and character, their humour alone entices us into however fragile a world."

Sample poems

Poems in The Tethers first appeared or are shortly forthcoming in Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, Leviathan Quarterly, The Liberal, Meridian, The New Republic, New Welsh Review, New Writing 14, Poetry London, Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, Stand, Thumbscrew, The Times Literary Supplement, and The Warwick Review.


At the question
of lung capacity,

the radiator pops
and hisses, a fox

can only be metaphor.
You and that hunk

of metal wheeze.
Sixth floor, Manhattan,

six a.m. winter dark
looks like so much

air to be had.
The fox is stealth.

I almost miss it.

Magnum Opus

Bracken, brambles, and bindweed obscure my castle
that would otherwise gleam in the midday sun.
I hauled the rock hither. I carved it into blocks.
I studied the history of architecture before I set a stone.

Perhaps gleam exaggerates the image.
Perhaps the walls’ pallor appears a sheer white
under the encroaching summer, and the buttresses
bear few but portentous fissures.

The castle also lacks a good bed, which is to say
that once I hack through this derisive vegetation,
I will mount the highest turret and wave my arm in grand sweeps.
I may hire some extras or bribe my friends to stand below.

I may drag the miles of bindweed down the corridors,
up the stairwells, and burn, burn, burn my fortress through.
Then may the pundits come and mourn.
Then may I lie on a kind mattress and dream of bungalows.

Both poems originally appeared in The Times Literary Supplement.