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James Hall

Associate Professor of English, Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House

Portrait of My Mother as the Republic of Texas

 

After my mother won independence in 1836, she dysfunctioned as her own nation, passed laws, erected monuments to men who would never again be slaves to order and pain.

Remember the Alamo? That was my mother.

Then in 1845 that always-pleasing church-mouse voted for annexation. My mother had too many selves and the desire to enslave them all. Pregnant, she was forced to become the twenty-eighth child of the American family.

Lone star no longer.

She joined a lineage of jacked-to-jesus hair, developed insatiable cravings for honey barbecue. Her uncles sauntered up, stroked the thin lace of her, declared she looked mighty good. She let them say mighty good while grinning at one another.

Nothing grew then on the prairies of my mother.

Then she learned dissent, demanded men recognize her sovereignty. She organized an embassy in a silver trailer shaped like a virgin bullet. My mother renamed herself The Republic of Texas, unfurled her flag all the way

into the 1980’s, when the Republic kidnapped her neighbors, Joe and Margaret Rowe, to highlight abuses she’d suffered. My mother was an American terrorist.

Don’t mess with Texas.

She died in the standoff. My new mother was elected by a landslide and moved to Cuero, a city whose largesse depends on retirement pensions. My peaceful mother holds weekly rallies: “What do we want? When do we want it?” Her lipstick stains the bullhorn mauve.

In her spare time, my mother receives foreign dignitaries and does dry-wall. The Global Conglomerate of my Mother opened her first staffed consulate in Barcelona. She insists visitors speak American.

Currently, the Republic is facing lean times. The former treasurer neglected May’s utilities, refuses to return the funds. Pledge your support today.

My motherland is standing by the rotary phone, waiting for your call.

Love her or leave her.

 

James Allen Hall’s first book of poetry, Now You’re the Enemy, won awards from the Lambda Literary Foundation, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the Fellowship of Southern Writers. He is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts, the New York Foundation of the Arts, and the University of Arizona Poetry Center, as well as the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Recent poems have appeared in New England Review, A Public Space, and Ploughshares.  

 

His second book, I Liked You Better Before I Knew You So Well, is a collection of personal lyric essays. The book was selected by author Chris Kraus as the winner of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Press’s Essay Award, published in April 2017 and winner of the 2018 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award for Nonfiction Prose.  

 

His lyric essays have appeared in Story Quarterly, Bellingham Review, CutBank, and Alaska Quarterly Review, among others, and one essay was selected as a “Notable Essay of the Year” in Best American Essays 2016.

 

A partial list of his favorite writers would include James Baldwin, Federico Garcia Lorca, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Gwendolyn Brooks, Elizabeth Bishop, Adrienne Rich, and Sylvia Plath.  

Education
Ph.D., Creative Writing and Literature, University of Houston, 2006.
M.F.A., Poetry, Bennington College, 2000.
B.A., English Literature, Stetson University, 1997.
Teaching

Current Course: Fall 2019

Strategies for Editing and Publishing

Previous Courses:

Literary Editing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction Workshop Poetry Workshop Forms of Poetry Global Research and Writing: Comic WomenGraduate Poetry WorkshopQueer LiteratureIntroduction to PoetryLiving Writers:  Lyric NonfictionLiving Writers:  Poetic Apertures

Publications

 

 

Books:
“Now You’re the Enemy is a brilliant exploration of the structure of feeling. This debut collection, in an astonishing sleight of hand, inflates representation in order to deflate the inner screen that provides both the darkness and the monsters.” —Claudia Rankine

   I Liked You Better Before I Knew You So Well (Personal Lyric Essays)

 

 
Interviews:
The Rumpus: “Blur, Cross, Pulverize, Confront, Remember: Talking with James Allen Hall” https://therumpus.net/2017/05/blur-cross-pulverize-confront-remember-talking-with-james-allen-hall/
Boxcar Review:  “Danger By Desire, A Conversation Between Jericho Brown and James Allen Hall”: http://www.boxcarpoetry.com/022/conversation_brown_hall.html

Awards: Devil’s Kitchen Reading Festival Award in Nonfiction Cleveland State University Poetry Center Essay Collection Award National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship Lambda Literary Award for Gay Male Poetry Helen C. Smith Award from the Texas Institute of Letters George Garrett Award for New Writing from the Fellowship of Southern Writers Maryland State Arts Council, Individual Award in Poetry (2017) and in Prose (2019)