Richard Wilbur calls McQuilkin’s poems “pungently exact about the properties of the real world.” And David Bottoms has written that “Rennie McQuilkin is a poet with an extraordinary eye... He looks at the hard questions of the world, never flinching, and translates them with a clarity that is rare in American poetry today.” Dick Allen agrees: “He has a voice unlike that of any other contemporary poet... McQuilkin speaks from us and with us in a language so devoid of all rhetoric it is pure American: the natural man is lifted out of himself almost beyond his knowing. My response is one of pure thanks.”
Rennie McQuilkin’s poetry has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Southern Review, The Yale Review, The Hudson Review, Poetry, and The American Scholar. He is the author of eight books, two of which have won awardsthe Swallow’s Tale Poetry Prize for We All Fall Down and the Texas Review Chapbook Prize for An Astonishment and an Hissing. McQuilkin has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, and for many years he directed the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, which he co-founded at Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, CT. In 2003 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Connecticut Center for the Book.
Read some sample poems from the book.
View the artwork which inspired some of these poems on the Seminar page.
The Antrim House seminar room offers notes, issues for discussion, and writing assignments. Click here to attend the seminar on Private Collection.
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Things keep going on the way they do
I remember how hot it wasnot a creak
We stood around.
Six lined up.
Mostly, I went along with the hymnbook
I was ready for something like the cat
And her gown, wet through, was true to her
Based on John Steuart Curry's "Baptlism in Kansas"
At breakfast with father
For all its British silver, it was Byzantine
Then, it was merely beyond me. And he went on
watched his hand emerge,
I would study harder,
after an early work by Mack Burns, Age 4
He crayoned his first crèche in three parts.
Just above the manger is a star burst
A lush brown, black-haired Mary,
The space around the shed is fire-orange
raring to go? Maybe left by a Wise Man
after “Sleigh Ride,” Winslow Homer
Look again. There are crows
Center left, a two-horse sleigh
But all that