Amy King’s recent book, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. Of her latest from Litmus Press, I Want to Make You Safe, John Ashbery described her poems as bringing “abstractions to brilliant, jagged life, emerging into rather than out of the busyness of living.” Safe was one of the Boston Globe’s Best Poetry Books of 2011, and it was reviewed, among others, by the Poetry Foundation and the Colorado Review.
King joins the ranks of Ann Patchett, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rachel Carson, Barbara Bush, and Pearl Buck as the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the WNBA Award (Women’s National Book Association). She was also honored by The Feminist Press as one of the “40 Under 40: The Future of Feminism” awardees, and she received the 2012 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.
I Want to Make You Safe was published by Litmus Press, 2011. Amy King is also the author of Slaves to do These Things, I’m the Man Who Loves You and Antidotes for an Alibi, all from Blazevox Books, as well as The People Instruments (Pavement Saw Press) and Kiss Me With the Mouth of Your Country (Dusie Press).
King served on the executive board of VIDA: Woman in Literary Arts and co-edited with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology, BIG ENERGY POETS: ECOPOETRY THINKS CLIMATE CHANGE. She also co-edits the Bettering American Poetry series (Bettering Books). She moderates the Women’s Poetry Listserv (WOMPO) and the Goodreads Poetry! Group. She teaches English and Creative Writing at SUNY Nassau Community College. Her poems have been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes, and she has been the recipient of a MacArthur Scholarship for Poetry. Amy King was also the 2007 Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere. Check her latest blog entries at Boston Review, Poetry Magazine and the Rumpus.
She co-edited Poets for Living Waters with Heidi Lynn Staples, co-edited the PEN Poetry Series and Esque Magazine with Ana Bozicevic and, for many years, moderated the Poetics List, sponsored by The Electronic Poetry Center (SUNY-Buffalo/University of Pennsylvania). She has also guest-lectured and conducted workshops at a number of colleges and universities, including Goddard College, Naropa University, RISD (Rhode Island School of Design), San Francisco State University, Slippery Rock University, and the Center for Women Writers at Salem College.
PRAISE FOR AMY KING’S POETRY
“Rarely have the nude and the cooked been so neatly joined” as in Amy King’s I Want to Make You Safe. If “us,” “herons,” and “dust” rhyme, then these poems rhyme. If that makes you feel safe, it shouldn’t. Amy King’s poems are exuberant, strange, and a bit grotesque. They’re spring-loaded and ready for trouble. Categories collapse. These are the new “thunderstorms with Barbie roots.” —Rae Armantrout
Amy King’s poems seem to encompass all that we think of as the “natural” world, i.e. sex, sun, love, rotting, hatching, dreaming, especially in the wonderful long poem “This Opera of Peace.” She brings these abstractions to brilliant, jagged life, emerging into rather than out of the busyness of living: “Let the walls bear up the angle of the floor,/Let the mice be tragic for all that is caged,/Let time’s contagion mar us/until spoken people lie as particles of wind.” —John Ashbery
These poems are meditative, subtle and deeply human, but beneath their cool, often gorgeous surfaces are darker currents, ‘holes firing lyrics, free range.’ Amy King ‘pimps the abyss,’ and she’s not joking. Better kiss your ‘trucker state’ goodbye. —Linh Dinh
Amy King’s mercurial poems capture the instability of cultural, sexual, and poetic identity. In the circuitry of her illuminated, incongruous, but somehow perfectly apt details, ‘the alien befits us.’ With a nod to Gertrude Stein and Fernando Pessoa, as well as cameos by Frida Kahlo, Maya Deren, and Claude Cahun, Amy celebrates ‘the roles’ of women even as she redefines them, telling us: ‘I put on my long black dream/to live among my female brothers.’ Playful, provocative, and frenetically lyrical, this is metamorphic poetry for our times. —Elaine Equi
Amy King’s poetry is carried by a vital and ineluctable complexity, yoking near—Elizabethan conceit to the roughest necessities with disarming sweetness. John Ashbery and Chidiock Tichborne could not have teamed up to do it better. —Annie Finch
I love Amy King’s smile in photos of Amy King, Amy King’s exuberance and looping, bashing panache (flamboyant manner, reckless courage) in the poems of Amy King, I’m going to say Amy King every chance I get in this blurb to make you think “I gotta read me some Amy King,” especially if you’re “looking for anything/that will pull the cork, boil the blood/of displeasure,” as only the poems of Amy King can in the world in which Amy King is King (and Queen). —Bob Hicok
The first poem I read by Amy King was “MEN BY THE LIPS OF WOMEN” and it struck me with a force I had previously felt on encountering masterworks by Lorca and Dylan Thomas. I won’t live long enough to see if her poetry will continue to equal the magnificence of theirs, but the fact that she achieved it once (at least) proves to me it could. —Bill Knott
Smoke n’ hott, these poems emerge as … audible diamonds that cut, where Rock is King & candor disarms paranoia. or, in King’s case, downright dismembers it: Forgive me, I am the final/ seminary soul to check your shape/in the dress of that embalming line, Passengered adeptly under the influence of Lorea, Neruda maybe, (Buried by midnight/ I am a Warm/fly in amber.) the reader wants to shout, GO DUENDE!!! —Jeni Olin
“‘I’m portable. My mind travels / the verse and valleys of whole people’ says the poet. Correct! Readers of this book will discover their own memories. They will melt in them, amazed, lullabied, dramatized, shocked that they exist. Amy King is a true bard. —Tomaz Salamun
‘We are not / a great many things, while in fact we are the functions / of those things, and without them, / we are less and more than ever.’ You see, there’s an underbelly that needs to be got to, and I’m The Man Who Loves You is all about it. Each detail in an Amy King poem seems a world in itself. & it’s not like you’ve never seen details like these. & it’s not like you have either. —Rod Smith
Vulnerability, fragility, and anxiety are all flushed out into the open here and addressed with such strong sound and rhythm that we recognize a resilient, defiant strength within them. King puts relentless pressure on forces seemingly beyond our reach and, in bringing them closer, exposes their own vulnerable centers. This is a poetry equally committed to language as a tool with social obligations and language as an art material obligated to reveal its own beauty. King’s language does both magnificently. —Cole Swensen
PRAISE FOR AMY KING’S TEACHING
Amy King’s workshops and critiques are as intelligent and intuitive as she is. She’s introduced me to conceptual ideas that seem at first complex and perhaps over my head—but the way she breaks them down and incorporates them step by step into fun and challenging exercises makes them so accessible that I find myself pondering and using them in my own poetics again and again. I’ve worked with her several times, and I highly recommend Amy’s teaching style—learned yet lucid, erudite yet playful. She’s a joy!
—Jenn Givhan, 2015 Winner NEA in Poetry
What’s amazing about Amy is, unlike so many other great poets, she’s also a great teacher, a true facilitator of other people’s visions. Amy has a range of techniques to guide you through the entire arc of the creative process from the first germ of inspiration to your final edit, but the support Amy offers doesn’t just confirm what you’re already doing. She will shake you up, jolt you out of your comfort zone and challenge you to confront the personal limits you’re stumbling over in your writing. Her prompts will immerse you – literally, with all kinds of media – in new ways of seeing, thinking and making connections, and her responses to your work will help you re-frame how you think about your writing. I always feel that Amy holds my work to as high a standard as she holds her own, yet her critiques reflect her sense of what I’m trying to accomplish; she’s sensitive and generous in that way. I don’t think teaching is just a day job to Amy. She brings the same ethic and commitment, the same way of connecting she explores in her poetry to her work with her students.
—Justine el-Khazen, Brooklyn-based poet & creative writing instructor at Eugene Lang
I have collaborated with Amy King on several publishing projects — the magazine Esque, and the PEN Poetry Series — and we’ve also taught together at Naropa University, The San Francisco Poetry Center and Slippery Rock University. Amy has taught me so much about teaching poetry and fostering fruitful, kinetic student interaction. At Naropa, we lead a workshop on “The Trans Cyborg;” from Fernando Pessoa to Tamiko Beyer and Nicki Minaj, Amy activated the group with generative readings and viewings, and insightfully helped along students’ work with critique and exercises like “Write your own personal mythology” and “Interlace fingers / interlace lines into a hybrid poem.” Co-teaching this class was a lesson to me as well on how poetry can pass between poet-teacher and poet-student, and how empathetic, radical, disciplined engagement leads to breakthroughs in poems and poetics. As a teacher, Amy accepts nothing less. Amy was also an essential reader and editor for both of my books of poetry, and a valued poetry journal co-editor who confidently made micro and macro editorial and curatorial decisions to the benefit of every poem she was entrusted with. I recommend her as a teacher and editor without hesitation — you are lucky to have a chance to travel a while with her.
—Ana Božičević, author of Stars of the Night Commute and the Lambda Literary Award-winning Rise in the Fall
Whether you are writing about the intricacies of daily interactions or incorporating broad topics from science to philosophy to politics, Amy King’s got you covered! She writes from the street but not from a blank slate – in fact, from a broad intellectual background. Her prompts are rich in detail and suggestibility. She provides extensive supporting material and recommends a cornucopia of relevant poetry to inspire you. Her feedback is direct, insightful, and incisive but does not foreclose your options for finding your own route to improvement.
She inspired me to write my first prose poem!
—Mary Newell, Ph. D.
In 35 years of teaching Creative Writing and literature courses at the University of South Alabama and having served as Alabama’s Poet Laureate from 2003 -2012, I have never know anyone who gives a more thorough and helpful critique than Amy King. She is an outstanding poet who uses her experience to offer insightful comments and suggestions thatare encouraging and yet honest when it comes to rewrites. I have taken a couple of Amy’s courses just to have her astute feedback. It is a privilege to be in a class of Amy’s, take part in challenging and exciting exercises. and learn new ways to look at writing poetry.
—Sue Walker, Publisher Negative Capability Press
Retired Professor of English, University of South Alabama,
Poet Laureate of Alabama 2003-2012