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How a Poem Can Happen

Conversations With Twenty-One Extraordinary Poets

Andrew Kuhn, Billy Collins (Foreword by), Leisha Douglas (Afterword by)


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For fifty years, world-class poets have come to the village library in Katonah, New York to read for the Katonah Poetry Series. For close to 25 of those years, Billy Collins has curated the series. Psychologist and poet Andrew Kuhn interviewed 21 of these poets before their readings, asking probing questions about craft and the creative process. The poets themselves expressed surprise and appreciation for where these conversations went. These unique exchanges are now collected in How a Poem Can Happen: Conversations With Twenty-One Extraordinary Poets. With a foreword by Billy Collins.

Advance readers are enthusiastic.

"Andy Kuhn's questions become conversations that, one by one, deeply engage and enlighten. With major poets so forthright about their craft, you'll wish you were in the room. At the very least keep How a Poem Can Happen close at hand. It's simply a gem of a book."
---Alexander Neubauer, author of Poetry in Person: 25 Years of Conversation with America's Poets (Knopf, 2010)

"While asking (and answering) questions about process, influences and the writerly life may seem easy, it's really about letting the conversation go toward the unexpected, the uncharted. These interviews give us insight into one of the most difficult jobs to describe: the poetic mind and its workings. And Kuhn has just the right touch--after reading, we readers receive "the poet" as an even more human, and humane, artist."
---Sophie Cabot Black, author of The Exchange: Poems (Greywolf, 2013)

These poets include three Poet Laureates of the United States--Billy Collins, Robert Pinsky, Kay Ryan--and many other distinguished authors of multiple award-winning collections, like Paul Muldoon, Alan Shapiro, Ellen Bass. (See the full list below).

  • Mary Jo Bang
  • Ellen Bass
  • Jill Bialosky
  • Daniel Brown
  • Billy Collins
  • George Bilgere
  • Jim Daniels
  • Carol Ann Davis
  • Michael Dickman
  • Jessica Greenbaum
  • Matthea Harvey
  • Paul Muldoon
  • Aimee Nezhukumatathil
  • Dennis Nurkse
  • Kathleen Ossip
  • Robert Pinsky
  • Katha Pollitt
  • Kay Ryan
  • David St. John
  • Alan Shapiro
  • Christian Wiman

Red Spruce Press, 9780692874707, 220pp.

Publication Date: May 30, 2017