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Brett DeFries

Brett DeFries

DeFries book cover








Brett DeFries is the author of The Light at the End of the Tunnel is Another Train Headed Our Direction, winner of the 2011 New Delta Review Chapbook Contest.  He is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and a Bertha Morton Fellowship, and his poetry and reviews have appeared in Colorado Review, Salt Hill, Laurel Review, West Branch, Phoebe, Eleven Eleven, DIAGRAM, Dark Sky Magazine, and elsewhere.  He has an MFA in poetry from the University of Montana and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of Iowa.

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Bibliography (- housed in Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection)  


  • The Light at the End of the Tunnel is an-other Train Headed Our Direction (New Delta Review, 2012)

Poems Online by Brett DeFries

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Author Interview

  Q: How did you become interested in writing?

A: I first became interested in writing late in high school, just after I first became interested in reading.  I started reading Dylan Thomas, Rainer Maria Rilke, and the American Transcendentalists my senior year, and I started writing very bad little aphoristic essays and poems imitative of Emerson and Thoreau.  When I got to college, I met the poetry professor there, Eliot Khalil Wilson, who gave me long reading lists of living and recently dead poets, and that's when I really started getting serious about writing poems.

Q: While writing, what inspires you the most?

A: No single thing, I don't think.  I'd say a lot inspires me.  I guess I'd say general fascination and uneasiness inspire my writing.  Colors.  Political events.  Belief.  Being in a place around other people.  These fascinate me, and they make me uneasy.

Q: When did you realize that poetry was for you?

A: When I met Eliot, my first professor, and started exploring modern and contemporary poetry in earnest for the first time, I learned pretty quickly that I wanted to keep studying and writing.

Q: Being a resident of Kansas, how has this state had an impact on your writing?

A: Kansas has impacted my writing a lot, as I think everyone's home place necessarily shapes them— what they see, what they don't see, what they think, and what they don't.  There are things about Kansas that I do love, and there are other things that I don't love at all.  Both of those find their way, sometimes subtly, sometimes not, into my writing.

Q: What process in writing is hardest for you, whether it's first draft, rewriting, editing, or even the synopsis for publishers?

A: I don't know about hardest.  I'd say most of my time is spent in revision, but I don't know if that makes it harder or not.  I tend to compose poems fairly quickly, and then I revisit to see what is promising.  I just read an excellent essay by Catherine Wagner, though, on the website Evening Will Come, and she has made me rethink how I revise. Every phase is hard.  But I like the different phases.  I'm not often exasperated by any writing phase, though I do find it challenging.

Q: How would you characterize your poetry?

A: I'm sure someone could characterize my poetry, though I hope different people would characterize it differently.  I can tell you what interests me.  I hesitate to characterize my writing, though, because I think poetry is above all else suggestive.  I don't want to add suggestions to the poem itself, which I hope leaves a space in which the reader can infer and associate on her own.

Q: What authors, books, cultures, or movies have impacted the style and meaning of your writing?

A: Lots and lots of writers / artists / thinkers / doers influence me.  To name some off the top of my head: Wittgenstein, Donald Revell, Fanny Howe, Peter Gizzi, Kierkegaard, Joseph Ceravolo, Barbara Guest, Andrei Tarkovsky, Mark McMorris, Mallarme, Paul Thomas Anderson, Deerhunter, Hart Crane, Robert Motherwell, Chaim Soutine, Gerhard Richter, Paul Celan.

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Brett Defries Winner of 2011 NDR Chapbook Contest

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