Poet, translator, and editor of a book literary criticism, I began my interest in writing in the Creative Writing Program at Oberlin, where I graduated in 2001. I took an introductory creative writing course with Martha Collins my sophomore year and soon declared my major. Aside from the opportunity to write, the program taught me specific elements of craft and changed the way I approached literature. Looking back, I am grateful for the dedication of my professors, who were always available and gracious enough to comment on numerous drafts of the same poem. I also remember the strong motivation of peers. Workshops at Oberlin were just as intense as what I experienced in graduate school but their tenor was less competitive. The other students were passionate and insightful critics, and I learned a lot from reading their poems.
My senior year at Oberlin, I also worked as an editorial assistant at Oberlin College Press, a well-known publisher of contemporary poetry as well as the literary journal FIELD. I sealed a lot of envelopes in those days, but also learned about the editorial process and made lasting friendships with the editors, David Young and David Walker. I eventually edited a book through the press: High Lonesome: On the Poetry of Charles Wright (Oberlin College Press, 2001), a generous survey of essays on a preeminent American poet.
After Oberlin, I moved to New York to work in publishing and then earned a MFA from the University of Virginia, where I was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. After Virginia, I made a split from academia, moved to Costa Rica, and taught English in a small mountain village for a year. I continued living in Latin America for three more years, teaching in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Lima, Peru. Balancing my writing with teaching and traveling was challenging, but I often found inspiration from the people and landscapes around me, especially the endless hills and exotic plant life of Costa Rica.
My fluency in Spanish also led to an interest in Latin American authors. I have recently been translating the work of the Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik. Translation has influenced my own writing. In order to translate a poem effectively, one must read the poem carefully and appreciate its many layers. The process has taught me a lot about how poems are crafted. Pizarnik's poems tend to be short and fragmented, which has led me to explore disjunction in my own work.
My poems and translations have appeared in the American Literary Review, FIELD, Smartish Pace, and other journals. I am currently working a book-length manuscript of poetry. In the fall of 2008, I had the pleasure to return to Oberlin as a visiting professor. I enjoyed helping my students explore their talents and continuing the program's tradition of dedicated teaching. My students were engaged participants, and as I remembered, the workshops were characterized by enthusiasm and candor. The Creative Writing Program is still a vital and supportive community at Oberlin and has only grown in recent years.
Plea for Interlude