Chase Twichell

Poems By Chase Twichell


The Paper River

Zazen and Opium

  Chase Twichell

Long a force in both the poetry and publishing worlds, Chase Twichell has been described as a writer of “dazzling and profound imagination.” She is author of six books, most recently Dog Language. Her New & Selected, entitled Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in April 2010. She is also the translator, with Tony K. Stewart, of The Lover of God by Rabindranath Tagore, and co-editor of The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach.

A native of New Haven, Connecticut, she received a B.A. from Trinity College (Hartford) and an M.F.A. from the prestigious University of Iowa Writers Workshop. Returning to the east coast, Twichell settled in the Northampton area and worked with Barry Moser as printer, bookbinder, and designer at Pennyroyal Press. In 1983 Twichell began a decades-long career as a teacher of creative writing, first at Hampshire College, followed by the University of Alabama, Goddard College, Warren Wilson College, and Princeton University. In 1999, she founded Ausable Press, a non-profit independent literary press that she operated until it was acquired by Copper Canyon Press in 2009.

Managing to be both meditative and startling, Twichell explores the nature of the human mind and the urgencies of our imperiled natural world with what Boston Review called “fierce psychic inquiry and tremendous lyrical gifts.” She is praised by writers as diverse as Yusef Komunyakaa, Maxine Kumin, and Bill McKibben, who noted that she writes with “utter honesty, and grave splendor, about the overriding fact of our brief moment on earth,” calling these “necessary poems.”

A practicing Buddhist and student in the Mountains and Rivers Order at Zen Mountain Monastery, Twichell’s poems reflect her spiritual practice within the ancient tradition of Basho and Dogen, as well as the contemporary company of Gary Snyder and W.S. Merwin. She follows these rules when writing poems: “Tell the truth. No decoration. Remember death.” Twichell explains that for her, poetry “is an expression of not only the way that I perceive the world, but the way I perceive human consciousness in the world…Not being able to pursue it would be like suddenly being unable to speak." And: “Poetry’s not window-cleaning. It breaks the glass.”

Twichell has received numerous awards for her work, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Artists’ Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, the novelist Russell Banks.






    Poetry Center Reading:
    Spring 2010