Rick Barot attended Wesleyan University and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Artist Trust of Washington, the Civitella Ranieri, and Stanford University, where he was a Wallace E. Stegner Fellow and a Jones Lecturer. He has published two books of poetry with Sarabande Books: The Darker Fall (2002), and Want (2008), which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and won the 2009 Grub Street Book Prize. His poems and essays have appeared in numerous publications, including Poetry, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, Tin House, The Kenyon Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Threepenny Review. He lives in Tacoma, Washington and teaches at Pacific Lutheran University, and in the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. His third collection, Chord, will be published by Sarabande in 2015.
Statement of Poetics
As it is for many writers, much of writing is, for me, a constant negotiation with helplessness. I don’t have a poetics so much as I have a work ethic. I write the poems, and a poetics arises after the fact—a form of Monday-morning quarter-backing. Because I have just finished my third book of poems and can now look at the effort that produced the book with some detachment, I can clearly see the formal and thematic concerns that informed the book’s poems. Those concerns add up to a kind of poetics, though as I was writing the poems I wasn’t much aware of the overarching concerns that led to the poems. I just wrote one poem after another.
The new book is titled Chord. I recently had to write a brief description of the book for the book’s publisher, and this is what I wrote: “Chord explores the harmonies and dissonances that can converge in a life that is immersed in the vivid troubles of contemporary America. The poems touch on questions that are, ultimately, often unanswerable. How poetry can dialogue with the political and societal distresses of recent years. How an immigrant pivots between memories of a past country and an urgent, present-day citizenship. How memory and identity manifest themselves in life and in art. How art is both limited and deeply consoling at once.” As a statement of poetics for my present moment as a writer, that blurb seems about right.
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