Friday, April 25, 2008

Chris Forhan

Chris Forhan is the author of The Actual Moon, The Actual Stars and Forgive Us Our Happiness. He received a 2007 NEA fellowship in poetry, and teaches at Butler University in Indianapolis, Ind.

His poems have been published in magazines such as Poetry, Paris Review, New England Review, Plougshares, Parnassus, Antioch Review, Georgia Review, and Slate, and anthologies including The Best American Poetry 2008, The Book of Irish American Poetry from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, The Pushcart Prize XXVII, Hammer and Blaze: A Gathering of Contemporary American Poets, and The New American Poets: A Bread Loaf Anthology.

Earlier this month, I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I’ve just finished James Longenbach’s new, short critical work The Art of the Poetic Line and found it to be an impressively pithy and straightforward consideration of the centrality of the line to our experience of poetry. I think the book serves as a useful supplement to three older, broader overviews of prosody that have at one point or another been helpful for me: John Thompson’s The Founding of English Metre, Paul Fussell’s Poetic Meter and Poetic Form, and Charles O. Hartman’s Free Verse: An Essay on Prosody.

As for poetry itself, I dip continually into the work of various poets for sustenance and inspiration, so I have stacks and stacks of books scattered about. Lately I am wary of letting my own poems get too tidy and safe — too unreasonably reasonable — so I have been paying particular attention to poems of lyric strangeness and intensity, poems with a heavy dose of irrationality and meaningful mystery. I’ve been enjoying the piercingly heartsick surrealism of Robert Desnos in The Voice of Robert Desnos: Selected Poems (translated by William Kulik). Books by more recent poets include No Starling by Nance Van Winckel (whose work has gotten noticeably and gorgeously strange in the last few years); Laura Kasischke’s Lilies Without; Dean Young’s embryoyo; Tomaž Šalamun’s The Book for My Brother; and Alessandra Lynch’s it was a terrible cloud at twilight. Lynch’s poems are deeply musical and emotionally rich—they persuade, finally, by their distinctive voice: by its often incantatory, even obsessive, quality and by its shifts and veerings that are both surprising and right.
Some of Forhan's poems are available online, including: "Prayer before Sleep," "A Child’s Guide to Etiquette," "Vanishing Act," "Oh Blessed Season," and "Last Words."

Visit Chris Forhan's faculty webpage.

--Marshal Zeringue