Deborah Ager
May 2011


Deborah AgerDeborah Ager ( is the author of the poetry collection Midnight Voices. She’s received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her poems have appeared in The Georgia Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, New South, and Los Angeles Review.

She founded 32 Poems Magazine, Ltd. in 2003. Many poems that first appeared in 32 Poems have been republished in the Best American Poetry and Best New Poets anthologies and on Verse Daily and Poetry Daily. Ager teaches online poetry workshops, founded the online Twitter Poet Party (follow hashtag #poetparty on Sundays at 9 pm ET), and codirects the Joaquin Miller Cabin Poetry Reading Series in Washington, DC.

Statement of Poetics

A fellow fellow at Sewanee said he wanted his poems “to break hearts.”

My ideal poem interrupts someone from the transparent actions in their lives. Transparency includes those actions we engage in often and, therefore, come easily to us. If we have driven for many years, we barely think about how to work the steering wheel, gas pedal, or the brakes. With my poems, I hope to interrupt this transparency: to startle, surprise, perhaps jolt. I want my poem to return to readers later, to come back after dark. I want the reader to experience the familiar in a surprising way.

Plato said, “poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.” I am interested not so much in the correctness of historical detail as in the accuracy, the authority, of emotion. I am not a confessional poet; I am not a historian, a fact checker. I am sculpting words and placing them together in a way that feels true to a moment I’ve imagined or remembered. Yeats said, “Out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.” I mention this because I do often feel I am fighting with the page, the words. Writing is not always a peaceful process. Some days, I struggle and feel happy to stagger away with a hundred words.



Back to PoetryNet