Biography of Chris Forhan
Chris Forhan grew up in Seattle, Washington. He earned an MA from the University of New Hampshire and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Virginia. He is the author of Forgive Us Our Happiness (1999), co-winner of the Bakeless Literary Publication Prize; The Actual Moon, The Actual Stars (2003), winner of the Samuel Morse French Poetry Prize; and Black Leapt In (2009), chosen by poet Phillis Levin for the Barrow Street Press Book Prize.
Publishers Weekly noted that in Forgive Us Our Happiness Forhan’s “happiness is mediated by wry glances at the mythic . . . and the demotic.” Often elegiac, the poems in Black Leapt In address a son’s early loss of his father, and the strange yet familiar experience of coming of age. Lawrence Raab commented that the poems in Black Leapt In “have in them something of Theodore Roethke’s excitement at being alive in the physical world—how much there is to see!—as well as Roethke’s certainty of the darkness threaded all through that world.”
Forhan’s poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry 2008, AGNI online, and the Paris Review. He has received a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts.
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Chris Forhan Poems
Gouge, Adze, Rasp, Hammer
So this is what it's like when love leaves, and one is disappointed that the body and mind continue to exist,
A Child's Guide To Etiquette
Never put your personal spoon in the common jelly bowl. Spread your napkin upon your lap. Do not grasp. Eat what meat your fork can get to; the rest of the lobster must be given
The night sky's a black stretch limo, boss in the back behind tinted glass. You could say that. Down here's a dungeon, up there's the glittering ring of keys in the sentry's fist. The self
She reads by the light of a guttering candle and likes the feel of each page's gilt edge as she lifts it slightly at the corner, readying
my father is having to leave the house with delicacy, easing the dead bolt open in the dark. The house exhales him. I'm thinking of a driving lay-up, of a girl
My Almost-Daughter, My Nearly-Was Son
Those overtime nights in the ice factory, eyeing gauges, greasing gears: that's one thing. And the hours of clarinet lessons. All that rain that blathered on the patio, leaves
Night again, and I'm not impressed: the blurred cedar, blowzy in her black dress, the bat's manic acrobatics -- he tries too hard -- the hooligan raccoon routing in the brush,
Prayer's Before Sleep
Straight A's on arithmetic quizzes, your cheek gets ground into the concrete down here, Sir. Thank You for sending only Your smallest monsters to find me and Your giant silence, thank You for that, within it
my father is having to leave the house
with delicacy, easing the dead bolt open
in the dark. The house exhales him.
I'm thinking of a driving lay-up, of a girl
in homeroom, blue necklace, brown skin.
Transistor radio on my pillow, volume low.
I know some things, not enough. My eyes
are closed, I'm listening hard, that song
again, Knock down the old gray wall,