Brian Teare’s most recent book, Doomstead Days (Nightboat Books, 2019), was written, as the poet says, on foot and en plein air. “Writing while walking,” Brian writes for the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet blog, “makes explicit the intimate relationship between a site and my body, and though writing while walking obviously privileges language as its end-product, it derives that language from relation lived through the physical especially.” The resulting book ranges over the changed and changing landscapes of the United States, and the poems, writes Marie Scarles in The Believer, “explore the toxicity and slow violence of environmental degradation across vast spatial and temporal reaches, using both wide-angle and microscopic lenses.” Reading it now, the book seems implicitly to anticipate the social and political outbreaks of 2020 as well as the viral disaster of COVID-19.

Doomstead Days was longlisted for the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The poem “Toxics Release Inventory (Essay on Man)” won the Four Quartets Prize of the T.S. Eliot Foundation and the Poetry Society of America. Brian has written five other critically acclaimed books, including Companion Grasses (2013), a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award; the Lambda Award-winning Pleasure (2010), Sight Map (2009), and The Room Where I Was Born (2003), winner of the Brittingham Prize and the 2004 Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry.

Brian attended the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference in 2003, working with C.D. Wright, and returned to teach in 2014 and 2016. Past participants have lauded his creation of a welcoming and generative space for their work, his acuity and incisiveness about poetry, and the way he develops a community of craft in his workshops. He teaches at the University of Virginia and is the founder and editor of one-man micropress Albion Books.

Interview with June Shanahan

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