My career as a writer began in Cincinnati when, as a boy of six, I wrote a story for my father after he had cut off part of his big toe with the lawn mower. I didn't write another story until my sophomore year at Ohio State, where I enrolled in a short story writing course just to be near a girl I liked. When I couldn’t woo the girl with my stories, I followed another girl into a poetry writing class to try my hand at writing love poems. The result, sadly, was another failed attempt at getting the girl and a collection of poorly written Journey songs. I did learn, however, that I truly enjoyed the challenge of writing.
After graduating from Ohio State, I decided that I needed to read much more literature before I could actually write it myself. In order to pay the bills, I put my English degree to good use by working as a Laboratory Manager for the Department of Zoology at Ohio State. It didn’t take me long to streamline the routine of feeding and caring for my menagerie of leeches, hissing cockroaches, snakes, tortoises, starfish, sponges, and various microbial life forms. After my first month at work, I was able to perform my duties in less than two hours, which left me six hours everyday to read and write. In the five years that I held the lab job, I wrote nearly 2,000 pages of poetry and stories, many of which relied heavily on the landscape and rich literary tradition of Ohio.
When Donald Hall told me that the ghost of James Wright was speaking through my poems, I felt that I needed to make a clean break from Ohio. Consequently, I spent much of my 30s looking back at Ohio in my rearview mirror, traveling to see if the world had more to offer me than my home state. During those years, I called England, Alaska, Iowa, and Oklahoma home for varying lengths of time. After 10 years of searching, I finally realized that the home I was looking for was the home I had left behind. So in 2001 I got a job teaching English at Columbus State Community College and packed up one last time to head back home.
Since my forlorn days at Ohio State, my writing has appeared in numerous print and electronic journals, including 2 River View, The American Journal of Poetry, Beloit Fiction Journal, Gettysburg Review, Poems & Plays, Poet Lore, The Sun, and Virginia Quarterly Review. I am also the author of four poetry chapbooks: The Weight of Smoke (Bottom Dog Press); Whisper Gallery (Mudlark); Everyday Elegies, (Pudding House); Afraid of Heaven (Mudlark). My debut full-length collection of poetry, Tragedy, Ecstasy, Doom, and so on, is available from Kelsay Books. My second full-length collection of poetry, Clean Coal Burn, is forthcoming in 2021, also from Kelsay Books.
My days now are no longer filled with the desire to find new landscapes; rather they are filled with showing my son the landscapes that I grew up with, the landscapes that I never really left behind but carried with me deep in my blood like the DNA of an ancient and mysterious ancestor whose life I still have much to learn about.