Craig Morgan Teicher

I think a very basic human tragedy, a basic frustration, is the inability to really cross the border between inner and outer lives. Language is our best bet for making that crossing, but there is so much from inside that never gets out on the backs of words...poetry, and especially formal poetry, is basically meaningful, but the form is always trying to tell us the story of what can’t be said in its own words. Every poem is about what isn’t in it.
 
 

colorado prize for poetry

 

 
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Craig Morgan Teicher is an artist of the first order. His essays, like his poems, are, as Marianne Moore might say, miracles of compression. But there is nothing compressed about his mind and spirit. He is a free thinker in an age of conformity—bold, imaginative, daring.
— Hilton Als
‘I’m most interested in the ascent,” writes Craig Morgan Teicher, ‘the way a poet climbs.” We Begin in Gladness is his gift to readers: a relaxed and lucid study of how poets get better, becoming unmistakably themselves over the long haul….Teicher’s smart and sturdy essays will be of use to poets trying to understand how artistic growth happens, and to anyone out to glimpse the miraculous: how a handful of words may be turned and burnished until they mirror the depths of who we are.
— Mark Doty
Craig Morgan Teicher’s The Trembling Answers, an ‘ultra-vivid / catalog of things / undone, hopes // unfulfilled, opportunities unnoticed so / untaken,’ is a portrait not only of the speaker (who is handsome, he claims in one of his many wry unvarnished self-assessments, as long as he avoids the mirror) but of any human being who refuses to delude himself as life’s options narrow and love deepens, sharpens, extracts its beautiful dues from us. Humor and fearlessness pulse through these poems….Part confession, part manifesto, part x-ray, this is a beautiful mea culpa, an I was here that invites its readers to take up their own unanswerables.
— Catherine Barnett

Poet and literary critic Craig Morgan Teicher is the author of three books of poems, The Trembling Answers (BOA, 2017), To Keep Love Blurry (BOA, 2012), and Brenda Is in the Room and Other Poems, (CLP, 2007), winner of the Colorado Prize for Poetry. He also wrote Cradle Book: Stories and Fables (BOA, 2010) and the chapbook Ambivalence and Other Conundrums (Omnidawn, 2014).  His first collection of essays, We Begin in Gladness: How Poets Progress, will be published by Graywolf in November 2018.

Teicher edited Once and For All: The Best of Delmore Schwartz (New Directions, 2016) and serves as a poetry editor for The Literary Review.  He writes about books for many publications, including The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times, and NPR.

Discussing the idea of “finding one’s voice,” Teicher notes, “The notion of “finding your voice” has become, like “show, don’t tell,” one of the favorite bits of jargon used in creative writing instruction. I think both ideas are misunderstood. Although, every poet does need to find his or her voice, as with the notion of development, one’s voice is really found through everyday living. It means coming to terms with - as in finding the words for - who you are, how you think, what tone your mind really lives in. It can take years, and lots of humbling failed poems, to accept the truth of our vocabulary, our subject matter...Finding a voice really means accepting one’s limitations, the extent of one’s vocabulary, and one’s wit and one’s attention span. And then, once you have acknowledged all of those things, it’s your job, as an artist, to make the most of them, to push them as far as they can go, and sometimes to push beyond those boundaries.”

Teicher is Director of Special Editorial Projects at Publisher’s Weekly. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children.

 

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