Kim Addonizio was born in 1954 and grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. The daughter of tennis champion Pauline Betz and sportswriter Bob Addie, she moved to San Francisco in the late 1970s, where she earned her B.A. and M.F.A from San Francisco State University. During these years her love for poetry was kindled, and in her late twenties she began to devote herself to her ever-growing passion.
Addonizio has published four collections of poems, including What Is This Thing Called Love(2004) and Tell Me (2000), which was a finalist for the National Book Award. She has also written two novels, My Dreams Out in the Street (2007) and Little Beauties (2005); a collection of short stories, In the Box Called Pleasure (1999); and co-edited Dorothy Parker’s Elbow: Tattoos on Writers, Writers on Tattoos (2002).
An astute, impassioned observer of the world around her, Addonizio wrestles with big subjects like love and death in a profoundly personal way. She examines the fragments of lives that are often dark, usually dangerous and unrelentingly real—yet the longtime blues harmonica player composes her verse with a musicality that is, as one reviewer put it, “purgatorial, and elegiac, and unashamed.” Author Andre Dubus III suggested that “Kim Addonizio writes like Lucinda Williams sings, with hard-earned grit and grace about the heart’s longing for love and redemption.”
Addonizio has also penned two instructional books about poetry and the creative process: the renowned Poet’s Companion (1997), co-authored with Dorianne Laux; and her most recent work, Ordinary Genius (2009). In examining the craft of poetry, she underscores the importance of cultivating a sense of personal power without bending to the conceptions of others, urging writers to “find your own corner of the world to tend.”
A recipient of two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and another from the Guggenheim Foundation, Addonizio has also been awarded a Pushcart Prize, a Commonwealth Club Poetry Medal, and the John Ciardi Lifetime Achievement Award. Her writing has been featured in such publications as American Poetry Review, Gettysburg Review, Paris Review, Poetry, and Threepenny Review. She currently teaches private workshops in her hometown of Oakland, California, and online.
Lucifer at the Starlite
—after George Meredith
Here’s my bright idea for life on earth:
better management. The CEO
has lost touch with the details. I’m worth
as much, but I care; I come down here, I show
my face, I’m a real regular. A toast:
To our boys and girls in the war, grinding
through sand, to everybody here, our host
who’s mostly mist, like methane rising
from retreating ice shelves. Put me in command.
For every town, we’ll have a marching band.
For each thoroughbred, a comfortable stable;
for each worker, a place beneath the table.
For every forward step a stumbling.
A shadow over every starlit thing.
Selected WorkLucifer at the Starlite (2009)What is This Thing Called Love (2004)Tell Me (2000), a National Book Award finalistLinksAddonizio’s top five poems
Gary Lilley is the author of four books of poetry: Alpha Zulu (2008), Black Poem, The Reprehensibles, and The Subsequent Blues. Poems have “the power to walk us down the street,” he says, “into the discovery within situations that we personally have not seen…Too often we are told to write what we know, facts, instead of what we can believe, truths.” His work finds kinship with the blues; his sound is “syncopated, densely compacted, defiantly resigned” and his stories are “from difficult places.” Lilley grew up in rural North Carolina and spent years in rough parts of Washington, D.C. The full variety of life finds a home in his poems, and it is easy to believe the “truths” that he writes.
Lilley teaches Creative Writing for Warren Wilson’s low-residency M.F.A. program. He has also taught at the Port Townsend Writer’s Conference at Centrum, and has been a poet-in-residence at WritersCorps, Young Chicago Authors, and The Poetry Center of Chicago. He currently lives in Port Townsend, Washington.
Prayer to Saint James Byrd of Jasper
Sometimes a sufferer wails them church blues.
She’s gonna smell gin on my breath, the street
in my clothes. Her good book off the dresser
with the word stronger than the oak, stronger
than the dogwood of the cross. I have worn
misdemeanor green and cleaned right-of-ways
for the state for a buck-fifty a day.
Where is God? I’ve run boots into the ground.
Saint James, you kissed your sister at the door
and walked the road. I’m on my hands and knees
to see the way. Saint James take us late night
husbands, brothers, and lost sons safely home.
Lord, rebuke the rollers on their long ride.
Selected WorkAlpha Zulu (2008)Subsequent Blues (2004)LinksAlpha Zulu by Gary Lilley