Associate Professor of English [Creative Writing]
MA, Fiction, Hollins University, 1990.
BA, English, Virginia Intermont College, 1986.
Areas of Expertise
- Writing Poems, Writing Essays, American Prose Style
- Contemporary American Poetry
- Teaching Creative Writing
- Southern Literature
Courses Currently Teaching
|EN178 B||Language, Thought, and Writing: Introduction to Creative Writing|
|EN279 B||Poetry Writing I|
|EN379 A||Poetry Writing II: Studies in Voice|
Other Courses Taught
|Great Writers Sentence By Sentence|
Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean
The Brass Girl Brouhaha
Appalachians Run Amok
Live from the Homesick Jamboree is a brave, brash, funny, and tragic hue and cry on growing up female during the 1970s, “when everything was always so awash” that the speaker finds herself adrift among adults who act like children. The book moves from adolescence through a dry-eyed, poignant exploration of two marriages, motherhood, and the larger world, with the headlong perceptiveness and brio characteristic of Adrian Blevins’s work. This poetry is plainspoken and streetwise, brutal and beautiful, provocative and self-incriminating, with much musicality and a corrosive bravura, brilliantly complicated by bursts of vernacular language and flashes of compassion. Whether listening to Emmylou Harris while thinking she should be memorizing Tolstoy, reflecting on her “full-to-bursting motherliness,” aging body, the tensions and lurchings of a relationship, or “the cockamamie lovingness” of it all, the language flies fast and furious. As the poet Tony Hoagland wrote of Blevins’s previous book, The Brass Girl Brouhaha, “this is the dirty, trash-talking, highly edified real thang.”
In essays that take wide-ranging forms—making this an ideal volume for creative nonfiction classes—contributors write about families left behind, hard-earned educations, selves transformed, identities chosen, and risks taken. They consider the courage required for the inheritances they carry.
Toughness and generosity alike characterize works by Dorothy Allison, bell hooks, Silas House, and others. These writers travel far away from the boundaries of a traditional Appalachia, and then circle back—always—to the mountains that made each of them the distinctive thinking and feeling people they ultimately became. The essays in Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean are an individual and collective act of courage.
“The voice of these poems is deeply feminine, perhaps because they are willing to say what so many women are unable to speak. With audacity and honesty, Blevins takes on the complex issues that often confront women: their relationships with parents and lovers, motherhood, teaching, and the task of balancing an artistic life with raising a family... Blevins speaks a certain truth about life's brutality and beauty. She tells the story of one woman with such dexterity and honesty that it becomes a more universal story which must be told.” —Marita O’Neill
“These are poems that shine and hum, that dazzle and crow.” —New Pages
“This is the American voice that I’ve been waiting for: robust, complex, passionate, sassy, crucified, and amused. Adrian Blevins tells some stories about women’s lives that we haven’t heard before, and tells them with a big, rich unrestrained stylistic vocabulary. Poetry lovers, this is the dirty, trash-talking, highly edified real thang. When you open this book, you should hear the ballistic explosion of a cork jumping out of a bottle, or the starter’s gun, which signals that the wild race has begun.” —Tony Hoagland
“At last we have a poet out here in the real world living and grieving and mothering, and then getting it all down—as few people do—just exactly like it is.” —The Roanoke Times
“Wildness of spirit seems to have evaporated from American poetry of late, thinned by the turpentine of earnestness and scolding. Or maybe it all just flowed downriver into the soulful ocean named Adrian Blevins. This book has all the speed, longing, sweetness, cruelty, and sorrow of time passing (as it most surely does) through the body, anybody’s body. The intelligence of the body doing the speaking here is both ferocious and generous, self-aware in the most forgiving ways—its power feeds off a deep humility in the face of the awesome daily facts. It moves me, it really does. It is also often funny as hell.”
"What did Dickinson say? That she knew it was poetry if she felt as if the top of her head were taken off? If that’s the standard, then hell yes this is poetry, and this is poetry that has lopped off my whole head and jammed me back into where and who I’m from. Blevins has found the sweet spot, building narratives that riff, stories that sing in the voice of the most combustible, lowdown country song sung by a “punk rock of a country heart.” Her subjects are Appalachian girlhood, love, death, and motherhood, in which infants smell “like not-death—like the earliest of the early yield—like kale and collards, maybe,”—not necessarily in that order. She story-sings of places where the water is “fat with the pee foam of cattle,” where people “live up a sidewinder the sidewinding likes of which only the dead can drive,” where the speaker remembers herself as “a teenage fugitive in a teenage redneck’s redneck truck,” Frank O’Hara and Ferlinghetti in her purse, “not needlepoint,” “never Einstein.” Death, for Blevins, is “blah,” but this poetry, cascading forward via a zillion ampersands run amok and a hilarious, provocative grief, is blah’s badass antidote."
"When you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a book of poems this alive, everything you say about it feels like an understatement. Yes, Appalachians Run Amok is utterly original, wild yet tight, feisty, vibrant, combustible. Yes, it’s bursting with keen-eyed tenderness and unshushable attitude. Yes, the poems’ startling emotional intelligence blends with myriad other intelligences (e.g. maternal, earthy, topical, humane, etc.) to create this voice, “all hot and giddy.” A proud daughter of Appalachia, Blevins gifts us with vivid glimpses of where she came of age. Reading her beautiful, linguistically limber, cascading descriptions is like shooting the rapids with an expert river rider at the helm."
"Adrian Blevins’ Appalachians Run Amok tells mountain secrets—not the ones you’d think. Comical, frank, worried but not worried about it, and always in trouble, they roar up out of the gorge in swimsuits they like, letter jackets, and a fast kind of poem that can hang onto anything, including babies small as “two empty toilet paper tubes you glue together into a bazooka to blow at the cosmos through.” This book is smart and wise and also lots of fun."
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