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deborah ager

What Was Asked of Me

March 5, 2010

They asked me how I organized my book, what am I reading, how do I balance mothering and writing. One asked about the syntax of my poems. They thought I had answers.

I was back in Iowa. Back to the expanse of white and at the end of 80 days of snow coverage. The deer stood hungry on the hills. The car crept past the muffler factory.

1. There is no balance. Everything comes at once. Stay present to what’s around you.

2. What am I reading? This is the perfect question to wipe my brain clean as a clean chalkboard. I should use this question on myself when I want peace and complete emptiness of mind. I have read The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker. He mentions living poets by name in a novel. That seems to break a rule. I don’t know which rule. But good for him. I read Ignore Everybody by a man who doodles on business cards for a living. I read the Drake University student magazine (it’s well designed) and read of Guerilla Gardeners who plant flowers on public property in the middle of the night. Planting a flower on public property without permission is technically a crime. I do not know if these gardeners ever doodle. I read of someone shooting people at the Pentagon. I read Elizabeth Bishop and Sylvia Plath. I read about Vitamin D in Nutrition Action Newsletter.

3. I organized my book by instinct. One could say it’s geographically organized. One could say whatever they would like. One could say it’s not organized at all.

4. I go by feel. I learn rules. I forget them. I mess the rules up. The wrong words fire from my brain, and I write anyway. I revise.


We interview poets we publish, and now I’m sharing an interview between The Southeast Review and yours truly.

Q: Though relatively new to the publishing world, 32 Poems has already become a respected source for talented poets. How do you and your editors select the poems for each issue?


I’m delighted to be reading with Charles Jensen at the Fall for the Book Festival at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA on September 24th. See details below and please come by if you’ll be around. 12:00pm Poetry of Independent Presses Thu, September 24, 12pm – 1pm M&T Bank Tent, Outside the Johnson Center, George […]


Come Hear Poets OPEN MICS and readings Artomatic Solo Stage, 3rd floor 55 M St SE, WDC Wednesday, June 17, 7-8:30 pm: Richard Peabody (Gargoyle, Last of the Red Hot Magnetos), Maria Padhila (Capitol Cougar), Deborah Ager, Dallas Corsair (Z-Spot) and open mic.


Fresh from 20 hours in the car through driving rain and, yes, more driving rain — Florida to Maryland, thank you — I made my way to the night’s poetry reading. Thanks to Wade Fletcher and Big Bear Cafe for having me at the Cheryl’s Gone reading series in Washington, DC. I read with Danika […]