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  Ucross, Arrival Day: I awoke in New York at 4:30 am (plenty of time to get ready and get to the airport) and yet somehow just made it to my departure gate as they were closing the door (after calling my name–Mary ACK-ers over the airport PA). But the flights were great, no issues. Buffalo to Minneapolis, Minneapolis to Billings, MT. I rented a car in Billings at the airport and then drove to the Sheridan airport where the Ucross folks met me and drove me back to the foundation. After, that is, she asked me if I needed to stop anywhere and offered the liquor store as an option. (I had tried to find a six-pack of beer at the convenience store where I filled up, but apparently they don’t do that in WY.) So she ran me to a package store and I bought two six packs. At VCCA it was my reward after a long day of writing to have that 4pm ice cold beer. With the time change, it isn’t working out quite the same yet, so I’ll have some leftovers to gift, I think.The tour of the grounds was personal and very extensive and I really tried to not be my overenthusiastic self, but I wanted to burst into happy tears as each new room and/or amenity was shown to me. My studio is awesome. Lots of light, and I’m looking right out on a creek with birds and otters and Black Angus cattle on the other side below some gorgeous hills. It’s cold, but not bitterly so, and the walk is about 20 minutes from my room to my studio–along a dirt road and through some pasture/agriculture land. Dinner was lovely. We had some bigwigs in attendance and I was pretty tired and hungry since it was 8pm by my body clock. I was also super self-conscious, because apparently that’s what I do at these things. The shrimp scampi at dinner had tails still on, so I removed the first one and then popped it hungrily into my mouth only to discover that the rest of the shell was still on. Faced with a number of horrifying options, I finally just gamely chewed up the whole thing, exoskeleton and all, and took a big sip of water to wash it down. Sleeping was a bit tough that first night, as it always is for me in a new place. I woke with an altitude headache and sweaty in the hot room, then turned the heat off and cracked the window which caused the door to rattle so I stuffed a washcloth underneath....

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“The Pragmatic and the Grotesque.” Man, I love this review (by Vanessa Blakeslee, in the spring issue of the Iowa Review) more than I can express. When a reader “gets” your sensibilities and likes the same things about your work that you like, it feels like the luckiest of gifts. And when that book is three years post-publication and you’re convinced it’s officially dropped off of every radar known to readerkind, even more so. Read the review...

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  Pete Gallivan did an absolutely wonderful feature on Buffalo’s WGRZ about my co-author Andrew Bienkowski for Unknown Stories of Western New York. Pete talked about Andy’s banishment to Siberia (in 1939) at only five years of age and how that experience has informed and influenced his life for the past 75 years. There’s even a little cameo from Yours Truly....

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Mary Akers: Thanks for agreeing to talk with me about your wonderful collection The New Testament. I enjoyed this collection so much, Jericho. It has stayed with me for weeks, much like your other collection Please did when I first read it. In fact, I would say you write the most haunting poems–in the best sense of the word “haunting”–the specter of them hovers, they follow me around, hang about, shimmer. It’s probably a personal thing, but what do you think makes a poem “haunt” a reader? Jericho Brown: Thanks so much, Mary! This is very hard to narrow down.  But I think being haunted means to be very aware of a presence we cannot see or touch.  I guess all good poems are haunting then, because they ultimately put sounds and images in our heads that are nowhere but our heads.  The poems themselves are only ink on a page.  So I’ll go with music and image as an answer for now.   MA: I like that answer–and now I’m thinking it could apply to all forms of writing. The term “Poetry of the Body” comes to mind when I read your work. I’ve heard several poets use lately, so I googled it and came up with a page that declares, “Poetry should be read aloud, tasted on the tongue, felt in the blood and heart.” I agree, but I wonder how a poet who writes work as somatic as yours feels about that definition. What do you think it means to be a poet of the body? JB: The “poet of the body” is one who reaches for revelations that are made in and through the body before they are fully understood in the mind.  I want to believe that poems ask us to make use of our instinct and intuition, that they create feelings in us similar to hunger or to an itch.  When we get these feelings, we know we need to eat or that something could be crawling on our skin.   MA: Yes. Beautiful. So…bearing in mind that artists and their work can fit into many different categories, would you place your own work in the category of Poetry of the Body? JB: I don’t try to do any categorizing of myself.  It would take all the fun out of writing if I bothered to place myself in such ways.  And because I’m so skeptical of my own habits, it would lead me to writing against something that may well be the thing that makes my poems particular.   MA: Reading your wonderful collection also had me thinking about form. You manage to create work that feels...

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Last night I attended another author (book club) appearance for BONES OF AN INLAND SEA. The book group was marvelous (they are aptly named, too: Joie de Vivre) and offered plenty of really insightful questions and intelligent, encouraging comments. It was a gathering of great readers, great book lovers. The whole evening warmed my authorly heart to the core. (Or maybe that was the hot flashes?) At any rate, we took a picture to commemorate our fun evening and I offer it...

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The Short Review Here’s an excerpt: “Akers does not judge her characters, and as each one gets their opportunity to speak up, offering us new perspectives on their role in this complex family tangle, or giving feedback on someone we have already met, we slowly piece together the relationships and connections, and what might be the truth about the prom and Rosie’s lack of chaperone (Treasures Few have ever Seen), or how come Dani so desperately wants to be a boy (¡Vieques!), or whether Jack is quite the loser he seems (Comfortably Numb, Collateral Damage), or what it is that makes Andrea tick (Beyond the Strandline, Madame Trousseau). We watch Quinn’s children grow in snatches, and their children, and their children’s children, as each new wave slaps up the beach to whet our interest and add another layer of understanding.”...

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