Contributor Spotlight: Len Krisak

Len Krisak’s Poems “Ornithological,” “Hunt Homage,” and “Bard” appeared in our Fall-Winter ‘ 15 issue and can be read here.

Tell us a little about these poems.

Sadly, “Bard” came from my experiences as an English teacher in a college class. I asked each student to read a brief number of lines from a Shakespearean play (I forget which one), and the result . . . well, I think the poem reflects the outcome.

“Ornithological” comes from direct experience of a battle fought out on my front lawn.

What’s the most difficult part of the writing process for you?

Conclusions, far and away. Poetic closure has a tendency to make me panic. An early reviewer of my first book teased me about a slight tendency to “lurch toward significance” in my endings. Ever since, I’ve tried to make sure the poem doesn’t stop before it has done justice to its inspiration.

Recommend a book for us which was published within the last decade.

Oh, that’s easy. Every aspiring poet (and all readers) should rush out and buy a copy of Alicia Stallings’ book Olives. After Richard Wilbur, she is the finest poet now writing in English in the world. Start with the poem, “Olives.”

If you could have a drink with any living author, who would it be? Why?

Wilbur and Stallings. I have imbibed with each of them, but never the three of us together. Wit and intelligence would flow more copiously than the booze, though!

What are you working on now? What’s next?

I have just finished a rhymed hexameter translation of The Aeneid, and am in hot pursuit of a publisher.

Our thanks to Len for taking the time to answer a few questions and share his work. Read Len’s three poems here:



Len Krisak’s work has appeared in Agni, The Antioch Review, The Sewanee Review, The Hudson Review, PN Review, Raritan, The Southwest Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and elsewhere. His books include The Carmina of Catullus (Carcanet Press, 2014) Afterimage (Measure Press, 2014) Rilke: New Poems (Boydell & Brewer, 2015) Ovid’s Erotic Poems (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014) and Virgil’s Eclogues (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010) He is the recipient of the Richard Wilbur Prize, Robert Frost Prize, Robert Penn Warren Prize, and is a four-time champion on Jeopardy!