Check out No River Twice, Poetry Improv that’s Never the Same Reading Twice

Last year my friend Hayden Saunier, a poet and actor, came up with an idea to change up what a traditional poetry reading is like. She invited a handful of people to a meeting at her house, and there No River Twice was born.

No River Twice is a poetry improvisational group. Our group poetry readings don’t have planned reading lists, reader orders or themes–they’re completely spontaneous and responsive to audience input. At a NRT reading, the poets take cues and suggestions from the audience and each other, so each performance is unique, the poems interconnect, weave and flow in a unique way that connects the readers to the listeners. We’re not inventing new poems on the spot, but we’re inventing new synergies, which makes each performance collaborative and new.

We held our first public performance in January at Fergie’s in Philadelphia, and have had a few since. Our next one will kick off the new Caesura poetry conference in Phoenixville, PA, August 17.

It’s hard to explain exactly what NRT is, so you should just come to one of our events–it’ll change the way you think about poetry readings.


Find some of my books here on Amazon.

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Finally, I Can Buy a Two-headed Calf

I used to love farmers’ fairs and carnivals when I was a kid. My cousins lived on a farm in Pennsylvania (sometimes a working farm, sometimes not), and I loved hanging out in the barns, roaming the fields looking quartz chunks, catching fish in the pond, but especially going to the Blue Valley Farm Showtwo headed calf at the farm show pic. There I’d look for the record-breaking bull, the tractor pull (which my cousin won one year, I think) and gorge myself on fried things.

Sometimes you see weird stuff at fairs, and one such encounter (somewhat fictionalized, I admit) I put into the poem Two-headed Calf at the Farm Show (which is in the book Necessary Mythsbuy here). Anyway, I just happened to notice, via the Facebook page of The Evolution Store, a listing for an actual two-headed calf for sale. The auction house Bonhams is offering both the full mount and an articulated skeleton.  Would someone please buy this for my birthday present? I know just the place I’d put it.


Two-headed Calf at the Farm Show


We came for sights and smells,

distractions of giant beets

and blue-ribbon goats,

but at the taxidermy tent we find

a body mounted, badly stitched and

held into a suckling pose

by wires hidden in the neck,

a calf that may or may not

have been more than we expected,

and who expects these things?

Not the calf as it entered the world

watching itself watching itself

slide out onto the sharp padding

of straw, strong hands pulling

at its legs. One heart, one spine

branching like a river

with two mouths to the sea

and for a brief moment

they both gasp, breath

struggling down a pair

of clotted throats, a god’s

joke that let the gentle eyes

open long enough to see

each other’s own lovely brown eyes

slowly close, the one heart too shocked

to bring legs up for balance

and finally those hands let go.

So now under a sun hot tent

we reach out to touch it,

holding hands but looking away,

thinking of the big coffee eyes

the moment one person knows before the other

that the fight for air is over

when one heart’s not enough

for both of us.


Here’s another taxidermy poem by me at Painted Bride Quarterly.

And here’s another tw0-headed calf poem, this one by Laura Gilpin (thanks to Laura Orem for the tip).

Twitter with me @Uniambic

Three Poems: Hurricane, Scrapple, Jackalope

Here’s me reading three newer poems (they’re not actually from the book, as I state in the intro, but hopefully from the next book). The poems are Naming the Hurricanes, Ode to Scrapple and Ode to a Jackalope (which will appear in an issue of Gargoyle later this year).

<p><a href=”″>Grant Clauser at the Rosemont Writer’s Retreat 2014</a> from <a href=””>Jill Frechie</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


Recorded by Jill Frechie at Rosemont College.


If Buzzfeed Did Poetry Listacles

So what would a Buzzfeed-style listacle post look like? Maybe something like this. Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section.

25 Poems Only People Who Grew Up in the 80s Will Understand
Best Celebrity NSFW Poems
10 Beatniks Who Cleaned Up
What kind of Sonnet are you?
Unfortunate Photos from the Dodge Poetry Festival
Someone Took a Manuscript to AWP and You Won’t Believe What Happened
15 Ways You Can Spot a Metamodernist
17 Problems All MFA Canditates Have
12 Things You Need to Know About Eugenio Montale
What Is Your Personal Theme Villanelle
25 Best Poems to Read on a First Date
The Most WTF Poems of All Time
18 Things All Skinny Poets Will Understand
3 Famous Poets Who Didn’t Hate Themselves
25 Poetry Journals That Never Read Submissions


*thanks to Brian Beatty for the idea

Follow on Twitter at @UnIambic 

My Only Halloween Poem


Halloween Mask

They never fit the way you hope

they will, the latex loose,

the green zombie nose

too low, the eye slots

too thin to guide you

down the road.

There’s no way to mask

this thing inside you.

Some costumes we swallow

with wine, with walks

along unfamiliar cobbles,

searching for doors to open

windows to break.

Others whip their shadows

like storm clouds

ripping the leaves off trees.

You can’t escape

the rain by running.

It’s like stealing other people’s tongues

but wanting to get their taste

out of your mouth.


 From The Trouble with Rivers (order here).