Contributor Spotlight: Todd Dillard

“Persimmons,” “Adipocere,” and “Slow Wake with Hangover” by Todd Dillard appeared in Issue 16 and can be read here.

Tell us a little about “Persimmons.”

I’ve really never seen a persimmon in person! Most of the imagery comes from Google searches, recipes, and what my mind conjured based on how beautiful the word is: that percussive “p,” like the breaking of skin; the lusty “purr” sound; that long, delicious “mm” bookended by fleshy and smacky “ss” sounds. The more I read about them and the longer I waited to eat one, the more I worried about the disparity between the persimmon on the page/in my head versus ones in the world. That worry turned into the engine behind the end of the poem, a synthesis of the paper bag, the poem’s page, and the persimmon all colliding together.

What was the most difficult part of this particular piece?

NOT EATING A PERSIMMON! (It felt like, in writing a poem about never having one, it would have been cheating.) The lack of punctuation was difficult, as I normally like dense, image-rich lines measured by a breath. In particular I struggled with the airy enjambment in the stanza: “please / do not hand me a paper / bag filled with sweet / bruised persimmons.”

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

Ross Gay’s “catalog of the unabashed gratitude” – have you ever looked at two people in love and hoped and prayed you too would find a love like theirs? This mirrors the beautiful spectacle of Ross Gay’s love for language; I aspire to love words as much as he loves words.

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

Kelly Link! She’s my favorite author. She has traveled the world, is the greatest living short story writer writing in English, and, if her press is any indication (it’s named Small Beer Press; all the books are beautiful inside and out) she likes beer too!

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

I am finishing this manuscript of poetry and learning to forgive myself for missing manuscript submission deadlines because I’d rather keep tinkering with this manuscript. And I’m reading so, so much. We are living in this stupendous era of excellent poetry, and I am doing as much as I can to capture as much as I can, and, in even some small way, be a part of it.

Our thanks to Todd for taking the time to answer a few questions and share his work. Read his poetry, “Persimmons,” “Adipocere,” and “Slow Wake with Hangover,” here:


Todd Dillard received his MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous publications, including McSweeney’s Internet Tendencies, Electric Literature, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Split Lip, and Best New Poets. He is the recipient of a grant from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and his chapbook “The Drowned Hymns” is available from Jeanne Duval Editions.