Contemporary Poetry |3| Michael Earl Craig

Michael Earl Craig is a poet and certified journeyman farrier who lives near Livingston, Montana. He is the author of four collections, most recently Thin Kimono (Wave Books, 2010) and Talkativeness (Wave Books, 2014).

In the poems that comprise his two most notable collections, Thin Kimono and Talkativeness, Michael Earl Craig re-puzzles reality to such an effect that the reader may end up questioning the motives of her mother’s houseplants. In lines like,

 Why would a man look at an owl and start to cry?

—Night Visit, Thin Kimono

and,

 My watch feels like a small corpse on my wrist tonight.

—Wild For The Lord, Talkativeness

there is the sense that we are dealing with a poet whose interests lay intrinsically in bringing to light the seemingly mundane so that we can examine it again and see that it is, in fact, surprisingly unfamiliar.

The obvious Lynchian influence to be found in Craig’s poems is something that the poet himself has all but attributed to the soundtrack to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me:

 The feel of that album just suits me perfectly. Poems should be dipped in it.

—Interview with HTMLGIANT

In the same interview he speaks of his admiration for Werner Herzog and it is not difficult to see the director’s cinematic influence throughout Craig’s poems. The inclination to linger over a given scene is used to great effect in poems such as The Evening News, I Am Examining A Small Crumb and The Trench Coat.

Perhaps the biggest and most pleasing surprise that will confront new readers of Craig’s writing is his use of a particularly unusual style of humour. Poem With Crab Puff, The Same Dream and Tap Water are all good examples of how Craig has imbued his writing with overtones of Lynchian humour while maintaining a voice that is distinctly his own.

The language within Thin Kimono and Talkativeness is simple but you’ll find yourself rereading Michael Earl Craig’s collections because they reward each and every read. Craig doesn’t really have an online profile, but you can see more about him on his publisher’s page here.

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