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Biography


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Biography


Eric Ekstrand is a poet living and working in North Carolina. His first full-length collection, Laodicea, was selected by Donald Revell for the Omnidawn 1st/2nd Book Prize and was a finalist for the National Poetry Series.  He received a 2009 Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, as well as a MacDowell Colony Fellowship in 2016.  He graduated with his MFA from the University of Houston and teaches creative writing and composition at Wake Forest University.  His poems can be found in Poetry, jubilat, Black Warrior Review, Indiana Review, Bat City Review, Oversound and elsewhere.

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Laodicea


Laodicea speaks English sympathetically at the edge of sense, where this world reveals another latent; and this world remains ordinary, just like we like it. In a time when we are told, amazingly, the universe is math, what does this mean for our friendships, for our language? Laodicea reminds, laughingly, that “The mind and the world / together are a Co-Cathedral”—the impulse for love and play.

Laodicea


Laodicea speaks English sympathetically at the edge of sense, where this world reveals another latent; and this world remains ordinary, just like we like it. In a time when we are told, amazingly, the universe is math, what does this mean for our friendships, for our language? Laodicea reminds, laughingly, that “The mind and the world / together are a Co-Cathedral”—the impulse for love and play.

From 'Laodicea'

 

That I can’t have You, rival

to personal choice, completely

 

without dying as the president’s

helicopters in trinity

 

for confusion fly low

over the river, conspiracy

 

black as You are

conspiracy black in low, stern

 

minerals, is one unconscious

consternation I have kept, Land.

 

Gripped-down plants

sprung in middle-states

 

are slightly more

like us to You and slightly

 

more like You to us.  People

can only think of the plants as objects

 

of beauty or use.  In Washington,

all of the plants are protestant,

 

mid-Atlantic, small and old

like oldest mountains are smallest.

 

Like Larkin-darkened post-war

Britain, the old mountains

Are concise and Lenten;

Or like Auden (if I were sarcastic

Because they are wrinkled

And in America). But with

Auden, I’m not sarcastic.

He is a great small mountain.

These have been my two simple elegies.

 

Buy The Book →

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Praise for Laodicea


Praise for Laodicea


Ange Mlinko

Marvelous Things Overheard

Amid the inauthentic, the pastiche, the absurd and the hilarious, it would be natural to feel somewhat ironic and lukewarm toward the world. But far from it: the affection between these speakers and their cohort tells another story about the durable ideal of friendship, which is always romantic. Love poems to one Hannah, reminiscent of Frank O’Hara’s poems to Grace Hartigan, are the apex of Ekstrand’s collection: read “The Legend of the Musk Deer” through to its surprising and beautiful conclusion and tell me it doesn’t belong with “In Memory of My Feelings” as a monument to the unruly impulses caught between passion, compassion, and sublime disinterest.

Donald Revell

Tantivy:                                New Poems

In the new and nearer Laodicea, Eric Ekstrand sets his margins moving and finds a center everywhere his loving eye alights.  Naturally, given the exigencies of our own bad empire, his concerns are tender and keen for the flesh, for shrines in the flesh that undisguise the blasted shrines of these United States.  Say the margin is a reindeer farm in North Carolina; say the center is "white tails / and little fur spirits rising from the anus." You get the picture.  You also get, by way of devotion, an eros fighting the good fight, a freedom as wild as prophecy any time, here and hereafter.

Tony Hoagland

Twenty Poems That could save america

As Dramatically as any young writer I know, Eric Ekstrand has invented a deeply original poetic language, an idiomatic grammar, which opens up strange, kaleidoscopic views of the familiar world.  His poems are pastoral landscapes in which social realities, flowering dogwoods, and linguistic coinages are intertwined with a Gnostic Chattiness, landscapes in which "The golden dog pauses / valueless among the muscle of the word rhododendron, " and wallpaper lotuses "sit like ladies / sit for yoga at the Y / --unsupressed."  Ekstrand's poems are intricate, wondrous, funny, contemplative and preternaturally wise.  They excite and awaken me.