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“Fierce and tender, the poems in Many Small Fires are both mysterious and wise, intensely lyric and full of story, but most importantly they are rich with wonder and fearlessness.”

Traci Brimhall

“For cosmos—think Whitman for the sense of this word, more than any metaphysician—is what Pence is after, each poem a world entire, an ecology, that delicate balance of exhalation and inhalation, air and flesh.”

Spencer Dew in decomP

In The Branches, the Axe, the Missing, Charlotte Pence goes beyond situating the personal within the contexts of science and history; she instead finely mortises the evolution of the human form with that of her own poetic form.”

Claudia Emerson

“…A delightful and disturbing read. A flurry of allusions, of histories, of personal disasters, all of it lightened with insight and a sly, sexy humor.”

Arthur Smith, author of The Fortunate Era

Charlotte Pence’s debut collection of poems, Many Small Fires, was released in February by Black Lawrence Press. In a recent review, Erica Wright explains that “this astonishing book takes a hard look at how mental illness affects those who love—or are expected to love—the patient.” A professor of English and Creative Writing at Eastern Illinois University, Charlotte is married to the fiction writer Adam Prince and is the former owner of two chickens, Soda Pop and Plan B. Read more >>

The Poetics of American Song Lyrics

“This collection of smart, incisive essays positions song lyrics—the choruses we holler in our cars with all the windows down, the verses that leave us misty-eyed while browsing shampoo aisles—as a legitimate and deeply compelling poetic form.”
—Amanda Petrusich, author of It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music

The Poetics of American Song Lyrics is the first collection of academic essays that regards songs as literature and that identifies intersections between the literary histories of poems and songs. The essayists share a desire to write on lyrics in a way that moves beyond sociological, historical, and autobiographical approaches and explicates songs in relation to poetics. Read more in Books >>

storytellingWHY DO WE LOVE STORY? (Part II.)

We are nearing the end of the semester, but I asked the class to re-visit, in their minds, the summer before they were freshmen at EIU. As a new student, they filled out countless forms, paper and electronic, that pertain to this school: the Panther card, the parking permit, the online access to D2L. Other than being tedious, all of these activities have at their core writing. Writing, which is so often considered a door that opens into a creative journey, was first created out of need, as was all basic inventions. The need was to organize people in one of our other great inventions: the city. Read more in Science and Poetry >>