by Kathy Fagan
Last September I published a book of poems with Milkweed that is very much influenced by nonfiction. In fact, I think of Bad Hobby as a memoir, and it is definitely my most autobiographical book of poems. Like this flash, it explores my childhood, my parents–one dead and one dementing at the time this essay was written–and the difficulties of navigating aging, healthcare systems, and caregiving while maintaining a job and a writing practice. During Covid lockdown, I found it impossible to make poems, but possible to make short essays. Or at least, I tried to make short essays, which is of course are as demanding as poems but, because I’m a beginner, felt more forgiving. I suggest to those writers for whom caregiving is yet another job to include that work in their own. Almost nothing is more essential to my practice than asking questions, and, when engaging with issues of mortality and love, there are almost nothing but.
Kathy Fagan’s sixth poetry collection is Bad Hobby (Milkweed Editions, 2022), available both in print and audio. Her previous book, Sycamore (Milkweed, 2017), was a finalist for the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Award. She’s been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and her work has appeared in venues such as The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Poetry, The Nation, The New Republic, Kenyon Review, The Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and Best American Poetry. Fagan co-founded the MFA Program in Creative Writing at The Ohio State University, where she teaches poetry and co-edits The Journal/OSU Press Wheeler Poetry Prize Series.