Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Confession Tuesday - The Poet Crush Edition

Dear Reader,

I confess I plan on being around all summer for Confession Tuesdays.  While I live a very dull, basic life, somehow being able to confess makes me feel a little more interesting than I really am.

So let's just enter the confessional, I hear we're talking about crushes today--

At the Skagit Poetry Festival, there was some talk about "poet crushes."

I think I've determined that there are a several kinds of poet crushes you can have--

1)    You read a poem or two, and fall in like with the poet.
2)    You read a few poems, fall in like, then see a photo of the poet.
3)    You meet the poet and crush begins.
4)    You take a workshop or class with the poet and crush begins.
5)    You hear the poet read and crush begins.
6)    You are the groupie crusher- which means you have to go to any place said poet is.
7)    Physical crush only
8)    Physical & intellectual crush
9)    Intellectual crush only
10)  All of the above crush

Now before I go any further, I should say that these are the innocent crushes, not the crushes that break up marriages, crushes like that should be crushed.

These are the crushes that are viewed from afar and while occasionally there may be some up-close time, these are not threatening crushes on anyone's relationship.  Those crushes must reside elsewhere, as in the past year I've seen too many marriages break-up over affairs, so let the confessional show that I am not supporting crushes that hurt or move to a Glenn Close Fatal Attraction scene, but just responding to innocent crushes, the ones where we admire our poets and if we were 13 again, would cut out their photos from TigerBeat magazine and tape them too our walls.

I confess
these are the poets whose work or photo I would tape to my wall--

Terrance Hayes
Bob Hicok
Kary Wayson

Here are poets I've once have taped to walls, but have since had to take down.

These are my Shaun Cassidys replaced by C. Thomas Howell (any of the women reading this from "The Outsiders" generation will probably get that reference)

Olena Kalytiak Davis
Li-Young Lee (a past groupie-crush)
Robert Pinsky

I confess while I still really like and admire these poets and refer and read their work more than other poets, they've slipped off my list a little bit.  These were my top 3 at one time.  My reasons for their slipping down my list sometimes has to do with their work, sometimes has to do with a reading I attended.


When you share a poet crush with a group, there will be two people who adamantly disagree with you and one person who agrees with you but is too shy, embarrassed or socially-smart to say so.


I confess when I get around poets I really admire, I become Neanderthal girl.

I say things like, "Book.  You sign?"

I drag my knuckles against the ground and walk with my head down so not to make eye contact with important poet-person.

If I do look at admired poet, I stare in an awkward way and if they smile at me, my cheeks immediately flush and I look away as if they are a diseased zombie I want no part of.


I confess one day I'd like to learn how to be the one who smiles back.


I confess I would love to hear your poet crushes.

Please feel free to comment as Anonymous if you do not want to have your crush "on the record" as mine are now.  Oh well, life is temporary, I think poets should know they are well-loved and admired.


  1. Funny you bring up this topic because I was just thinking about my poetry crush on Tony Hoagland. He’s reading on Friday at Salem State College so I’ll get to meet him finally.

    I have poetry crushes on Terrance and Bob Hicok, but I know Terrance so that doesn’t count.

    Other crushes include Matthew Dickman, Franz Wright (would love to have a cup of tea with Franz), and Adrian Matejka. Intellectual crushes for the most part.

    And if we include women in the mix, you, Aimee Nez, and Naomi Shihab Nye are right up there!

  2. Funny. Thanks for the smile.

    I've got a shelf-full of crushes, some quite long lasting.

  3. I confessed my crush on Robert Wrigley to poet friends at the Skagit River Poetry Festival and they argued with me. Now, what is the motivation for denying someone their crush? One reason they gave is that [name witheld] ALREADY has a crush on Robert Wrigley. Was I plagiarizing a crush? My crush dates back 2 years--maybe I had it before [name witheld]. [Name witheld] is male and I am female; can't we share Robert? My crush is a category 5 crush: you hear/see the poet at a performance, and you fall for their Poetry Magnetism, which is part great poetry, and part je ne say what.

  4. January-- Good crushes! And definitely add women to the mix. I have Kary in my list. I bet you Aimee is on a long line of crush lists!

    And I don't know Adrian Matejka, so I'm excited to have someone to google.

    Maureen--Happy to make you smile! I too have a bookcase full of crushes. I didn't mention my first fiction crush, Douglas Coupland.

    I love your note of arguing a poet crush! (Who would do such a thing?!) ;-) And I also love the idea of plagiarizing a crush! (I may have a poem title here)

    Wow, a category 5. I haven't had a crush like that for awhile. I'd like a category 5 crush.

    Thanks for your confessions!

  5. I have had quite a few poet crushes and I'd have to second your love of okd and bob hicock. Two of my recent crushes was on Sarah Lindsay and A Van Jordan. They just blow me away ;)

  6. I think I first saw poet crush lists about the time I first started blogging about poetry and it seems to me that getting close to seven years ago. I've only recently seen the subject regain a life on blogs but I have to say that the list of catagories adds a new demension to the mix that I have not seen.

    These intrigue me because there are certainly differences beween having the more close up and personal contact with a poet at a reading and just reading a poet's words on a page. Still, the later underscores the power words on a page can have in fostering an intellectual connection with a poet you've never seen and quite possibly won't. It seems odd that that we can identify so much with a person because we connect with the words they write on a page.

    Like others, my own poet crushes have been in flux over time. Not quite sure I'm raedy to crush and tell. ;)

  7. Tony Hoagland (and I did take a workshop with him!!)

    Jane Mead

  8. I would classify a poetry infatuation three ways:
    1.) Would I travel cross country to visit their gravesite?
    2.) Would I drive over 200 miles to meet them personally?
    3.) Would I pay over $200 for a rare copy of their book?

    So, #1 -- Laura Gilpin, whose poem "Two-Headed Calf" in Hocus Pocus of the Universe is a masterpiece of switching perspective, and so moving;

    #2 -- Lee Upton, who wrote the book The Invention of Kindness, the only poetry volume I have read to literal tatters. Enough said on that;

    #3 -- Weldon Kees, whose autographed book Fall of the Magicians costs over $1,200, which I whimsically considered buying before my wife's guffaws ended the daydream.

  9. I call them poetry superheroes (or superheroines) instead of crushes. Here are some of my poetry superheroes:
    --Margaret Atwood
    --Louise Gluck
    --Dana Levin
    --Matthea Harvey
    --Ilya Kaminsky
    --Dorianne Laux
    --Denise Duhamel
    --Tyehimba Jess
    --Brigit Pegeen Kelly
    And a host of bloggers, including Eduardo Corral, Paul Guest, Aimee, Oliver, Rebecca Loudon, well, I could go on and on...
    Stylistically, they are sort of all over the map, right?
    Oh, I definitely have artist crushes too...Renee Lynch, Yumiko Kayukawa, and Michaela Eaves. I would like them all to be on my payroll as permanent cover artists. When I get wealthy.

  10. Love this post! I have a lot of musician crushes, and those feel different from poet-crushes to me because with poets there is the whole thing of feeling like I'm in the same "line of work" and aspire to follow in their footsteps a little bit, whereas with musicians I'm just kind of in awe of something I could never do but love to daydream about being able to do.

    I guess I've had poet-crushes on most of my teachers, at least for a while. Not all of them, but almost all of them. (I've been lucky and have had some terrific teachers.) A few others I can think of who I haven't been lucky enough to study with even short-term, but have heard them read: Joy Harjo, Mark Doty, W.S. Merwin (that one took me totally by surprise, but when I heard him read I was absolutely entranced). A couple of poets I haven't heard read (yet), but whose work I am absolutely crushed-out on: Eloise Klein Healy, Ellen Bass, and (a relatively new one, with only two books out so far) Elizabeth Bradfield.

    And a few bloggers here and there but I'll spare them the embarrassment. ;)

  11. A # 3 crush on Alberto Rios after Skagit.

  12. I have a #1 type crush on Frank Montesonti, whose chapbook "A Civic Pageant" was the best poetry collection I've read this year.
    My #2 crush is WS Merwin, who is gorgeous even at 80-whatever.
    My intellectual crushes go to Rebecca Loudon and Vasko Popa.
    And I have an unclassified "motherly crush" on Pier Giorgio Di Cicco, whom I love and would really like to take good care of.


    Loved you neanderthal comment - Book. You sign?
    very funny.

  13. Thanks all! I enjoyed these crushes and learned of a few new poets too.


Always love to hear from you...and the anonymous option is open for those feeling shy.

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