I first fell in love with meter when my mentor-now-boss Rob Griffith read “St. Judas” out loud. By reframing the most famous story of all time from the point of view of the ‘villain’ and contextualizing him by reminding the reader someone had to betray Christ or there was no savior story, Wright effectively won my heart: I bought his collected poems the next day.
Danez Smith – Black Movie
I can set a classroom of students who think they hate poetry on fire by letting them watch Danez Smith read “Dinosaurs in the Hood” and watching their faces change from delight to terror to sadness. The whole collection shows how different these movies would be with Black characters and how much less forgiving the worlds would be to them in heartbreaking and beautiful ways.
No writer has ever written so beautifully and convincingly about how having a stepdaughter changes your life forever: one of his poems was so powerful for me, I ripped it out of one copy of a book and keep it in my bedside table. Plus, his Elliott Smith poems are divine.
Allison is not just a brave poet working in meter (and someone who allowed me to take MFA classes with her despite my focus being on fiction with Pinckney Benedict), she’s infinitely generous with her time, promotion, and cheering for other writers. Her work will stand on its own, but the whole community would be made much better by other writers following her open and kind example.
Galway Kinnell – Mortal Acts, Mortal Words
One of my best friends, a tremendous poet in her own right, Corinna McClanahan Schroeder, and I had the privilege of seeing Kinnell read in early 2008, and it will always mean something to me, but then a precious student, who has meant so much to me through the years, gave me a signed first edition they found of this book. It has my favorite poem, “Wait,” in it, and this student knew that and made sure this would always be in my collection.
Katie Darby Mullins teaches creative writing at the University of Evansville. In addition to being nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net multiple times and being the associate editor of metrical poetry journal Measure, she’s been published or has work forthcoming in journals like Barrelhouse, The Rumpus, Iron Horse, Hawaii Pacific Review, BOAAT Press, Harpur Palate, Prime Number, Big Lucks, Pithead Chapel, and Hobart.