Craig Arnold
(USA, 1967–2009)   
Craig Arnold

Craig Arnold earned his BA in English from Yale University and his PhD in creative writing from the University of Utah. Arnold’s second collection of poetry, Made Flesh (2008), is “motored by vividly earthy language and disguised philosophical sophistication,” observed Publishers Weekly in a starred review, praising “sequences neither (quite) lyric nor narrative, but erotic and ever alert.”

To wake when all is possible
before the agitations of the day
have gripped you
                    To come to the kitchen
and peel a little basketball
for breakfast
              To tear the husk
like cotton padding        a cloud of oil
misting out of its pinprick pores
clean and sharp as pepper.
(from ‘Meditation on a Grapefruit’)

The raw, emotional intensity of Made Flesh stands in stark reply to the classical, formal mastery displayed in Arnold’s first collection, Shells (1999), which won the 1998 Yale Younger Poets Award. “We want heat – and Arnold is a poet of ‘want,’ in both the word’s senses,” wrote David Orr of Arnold's poem ‘Hot,’ in Shells, “He’s interested not only in our hunger for consummation, sexual or otherwise, but the lack which causes that hunger and follows each flickering moment of satisfaction.”

This winter you lost
one of  your long low branches
to a backed-up car

and the old woman
who has known you all her life
wept at the split wood

Your bark is wrinkled
more deeply than any face
you live so slowly

do our voices sound
to you like the fluttering
of  paper moth wings

do we seem rootless
holding fast to the anchor
of  the saddest things

(from ‘Mulberry’)

Arnold's honors included the Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Scholarship, the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the US-Japan Creative Artists Exchange Fellowship, the Alfred Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, a Dobie Paisano Residency, and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. A Fulbright Scholar at Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia, Arnold was also an avid musician and performed as a member of the band Iris.

In 2009, Arnold traveled to Japan to research volcanoes for a planned book of poetry. In May of that year, he disappeared while hiking on the island of Kuchinoerabujima. In the New York Times, the poet David Orr mourned the loss of Arnold, but noted it would “be a mistake to think of him as a writer silenced before his prime . . . His shelf space may be smaller than one would wish, but he earned every bit of it.”



Made Flesh, Copper Canyon Press, Port Townsend, WA, 2008
Shells, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1999

Links, ‘ There Will Be No More Poems From Him”’ by David Orr
Poetry magazine, ‘ To Let You Pass: Remembering Craig Arnold’ by Christian Wiman, ‘ How to Write Love Poems: Adrian Blevins, Rebecca Hoogs, Cyrus Cassells, and Craig Arnold on how to write love poems that don't suck’
Publishers Weekly, starred review of Arnold's Made Flesh



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