Richard Garcia, MFA
Affiliate Faculty, MFA in Creative Writing Program
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Richard Garcia (Poetry) has authored seven collections of poetry, most recently Porridge, winner of Press 53’s 2016 competition. His previous book, The Chair, from BOA Editions, was named the best poetry book of 2015 by Don Share, editor of Poetry magazine, who wrote, “The author of five previous collections, each excellent, Garcia’s poems are unfailingly lucid, vivid, humane, acute, accessible, and delightful…But with The Chair, Garcia proves himself to be a master of prose poetry. Prose poetry is notoriously hard to judge, because it’s notoriously hard to be good at it.”
His poems have appeared in The Georgia Review, Crazyhorse, The Cortland Review and Ploughshares, The Best of the Prose Poem, andBest American Poetry. He has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a Pushcart Prize. He teaches at Antioch University Los Angeles in the MFA in Creative Writing program. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina.
MFA in Creative Writing, Warren Wilson College, Asheville, NC
Porridge, Press 53
The Flying Garcias, University of Pittsburgh Press
Rancho Notorious, BOA Editions
The Persistence of Objects, BOA Editions
Chickenhead, Foothills Publishing
National Endowment of the Arts, 1991
I don’t believe poems should be boring. I don’t care for poems that are actually mini-essays or creative non-fiction. I value surprise, form and structure. I value the play of language and the music of words and thought. I like, and this is not a metaphor, poems that give you what I call The Chill. For me it’s a physical sensation, usually at the back of my neck. I showed a friend of mine a poem by Tess Gallagher and the hair on her forearms stood up. That’s what I’m talking about.
I teach the creation of poems like this using two methods. First, I shake things up, get you to write backwards or to get lost and not have the slightest idea what you are doing. Poetry is discovery, not exposition. To write what you know is helpful but even better is to write from what you don’t know. Second, I stress the form and structure that is in every poem and help you to find it or learn it.
While definitions of poetry aren’t much help to us as writers and readers, I do find it useful to think of what poems are made of: memory and imagination, with attention to language, attention to form and structure, and a dash of randomness. Poems are a balance of thought, feeling, and music. The music in a poem is connotative and denotative; it has to do with sensations evoked by sound elements, and also with the meanings of the words and the associations that arise.