Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday Muse: Idaho's Writer-in-Residence

Poets are people who like to get the truth out
and shine the light into dark places.
~ Poet Diane Raptosh*

Diane Raptosh is Idaho's current Writer-in-Residence. The successor to novelist Brady Udall (2010-2013), Raptosh began her term July 1, 2013; she will serve through June 30, 2016.

Raptosh is the thirteenth writer to be awarded the position.

In addition to teaching composition, creative writing, and literature at the university level, Raptosh conducts writing workshops and readings and lectures on poetry widely and in many different venues, including prisons, juvenile detention centers, and women's safe houses. She directs a program in criminal justice/prison studies as well. Since assuming her role as Writer-in-Residence, she told the Idaho Press-Tribune*, she has "been out with people more, raising awareness about things poetry can do and the topics poetry can take on."

Information about the Writer-in-Residence position and the selection process is included in my August 30, 2010, post about Brady Udall. Raptosh's principal duties are to present four public readings a year and attend special events throughout the state. 

* * * * * 
. . . Listening carefully is a good practice
for staying tuned in. . . .
~ Diane Raptosh**

Idaho-born Diane Raptosh is the author of American Amnesiac (Etruscan Press, 2013), a book-length dramatic monologue in mostly unrhymed and untitled couplets in which, as Raptosh describes it, "[t]he protagonist wakes up one day and wonders what the heck has happened in this country and how can I go on?"*** Raptosh's other collections are Parents from a Different Alphabet (Guernica Editions, Essential Poets Series, 2008), Labor Songs (Guernica, Essential Poets Series, 1999), and Just West of Now (Guernica, Essential Poets Series, 1992, 1995).

In addition to poetry, Raptosh writes essays and short fiction. She told the Idaho Stateman that ". . . writing poetry is more interior. It gives me the opportunity to take the inner life to the outside. . . ."

Raptosh is both a lyrical and a prose (or narrative) poet and creates blends with prose or hybrids of traditional or adapted formal forms (for example, ghazals). Among the themes found in her poetry are self and identity, memory, communication, place (home), love, loss and death, conflict, history and myth, past and present. The environment and its degradation, nature, and the western landscape also find resonance in her work.

Following is the opening stanza of Raptosh's lovely poem "Sky with Proviso":

        after Neruda
I want to ask you to walk with me
toward no movement and not
saying a word        I want to
see if we can cover hard ground
like muledeer on tiptoe
ears pricked against far
dry heat      I want to know
if we can arrive [. . . .]

Poems by Raptosh have been published in more than four dozen journals and literary periodicals, including Blast FurnaceFragLit, Hartskill ReviewLos Angeles Review, The Meadowland ReviewMichigan Quarterly ReviewOccuPoetry, Pif Magazine,, and Women's Studies Quarterly.

Work by Raptosh also has appeared in at least 20 anthologies, among them Sinatra: ... but buddy, I'm a kind of poem (Entasis Press, 2008), Classifieds: An Anthology of Prose Poems (Equinox Publishing, 2012), The Glenn Gould Anthology,  Mamas and Papas: On the Sublime and Heartbreaking Art of Parenting (Sunbelt Publications, 2010),  New Poets of the American West (Many Voices Press, 2010),  The Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets (The Backwaters Press, 2013), and Verse/Chorus: A Call and Response Anthology (Jamii Publishing, 2014). Additional anthologies in which Raptosh has published are found in the Books section of her Website.

Currently a professor of English at The College of Idaho, where she holds the Eyck-Berringer Endowed Chair, Raptosh served a one-year appointment (2013) as Boise's first poet laureate (read "Professor Named Boise's First Poet Laureate"). Raptosh's American Amnesiac was longlisted for the 2013 National Book Award. She has received three fellowships in literature from Idaho Commission on the Arts (2007, 2001, 1991) and completed residencies in the literary arts at Banff Centre and The Studios of Key West. In addition, in 2013 Educe Journal nominated for a Pushcart Prize two of her poems from her manuscript Torchie's Book of Days (slated to become Raptosh's next book), and Boise Weekly presented her with a honorable mention for a fiction piece in 101 words. 


Photo Credit: Courtesy of Diane Raptosh (Press Kit)

All Poetry Excerpts © Diane Raptosh

* Quoted from Idaho Press-Tribune Feature Article (See link below.)

** Quoted from CutBank Literary Magazine Interview (See link below.)

*** Quoted from Poets' Quarterly Interview (See link below.)

Diane Raptosh Poems Online: One Untitled Poem from American Amnesiac in Press Kit for Diane Raptosh; Two Untited Poems from American Amnesiac at OccuPoetry; "Weather Watch", "Distance, Weather and Bad Light", "Scale", "Transcriptions, Rancho Paradise Motor Park" I-III), "Great Aunt at the Guitar", and "Sleeping with Emanuela", All from Just West of Now: Poems at GoogleBooks; Labor Songs at GoogleBooks; "Love's Matters: A Symposium" ("Husband", "World Affairs", "Story Problem", "Fight Choreography", "Affliction", "Betrayal") at FragLit; "Name Change" (Excerpt from American Amnesiac) at The Newer York; "Sky with Proviso" at Idaho Statesman; "Numbers Ode" at Blast Furnace; "Neck and Neck", "Parts of Speech", "Plosion", All at; "Monogamy", "The Information Age", "Condition", "Interior Design", "Everything", "The Mother of Her Second Daughter", "The Diva Regina's Soliloquy", All at  Mudlark (Electronic Journal of Poetry & Poetics); "Elations" at Best Poem; "What Wittgenstein's College Friend Frank Says", "Art Must Be Useful to the People", "Interspecies", All at Sleet Magazine; Two Untitled Poems from American Amnesiac at Spiral Orb; Untitled Poem from American Amnesiac at Poetry 365 | Off the Shelf; "Materfamilias" and "Milk", Both at Arabesques Review

Boise Arts & History has posted "Diane Raptosh: Selection from American Amnesiac" on Vimeo (April 2014). (Poem's Text)

Diane Raptosh Blog

Diane Raptosh on FaceBook and Twitter

Dana Oland, "Boise's Poet Laureate Diane Raptosh Puts the City Into Poetic Perspective", Idaho Statesman, May 18, 2013 (As the city's poet, Raptosh was asked to write three poems, one each on the topics of environment, community, and enterprise.)

Boise City Department of Arts & History, "City of Boise Announces First Poet Laureate", January 15, 2013

Brad Carlson, "Writer Diane Raptosh Reaches Out", Idaho Press-Tribune, January 26, 2014

Allison Linville, "Interview: Diane Raptosh", CutBank Literary Magazine, January 7, 2014

*** Nin Andrews, "Interview with Diane Raptosh", Poets' Quarterly, October 13, 2013 (This is a particularly good interview in which Raptosh discusses American Amnesiac, which she admits is "challenging". A link is included to three audio recordings by Raptosh.)

"The Writers' Block for March 31st - Diane Raptosh", Audio Interview,, March 29, 2011

Reviews of American Amnesiac at NewPages Book Reviews (February 2014) and Weave Magazine (September 28, 2013)

Ahsahta Press

The Backwaters Press

Etruscan Press

Etruscan Press Page for American Amnesiac

Guernica Editions

Guernica Editions Pages for Parents from a Different Alphabet, and Just West of Now, and Labor Songs

Idaho Writer's League

Jamii Publishing

Log Cabin Literary Center

Lost Horse Press

National Book Foundation

Writer-in-Residence Page at Idaho Commission on the Arts

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

good post, mo.