Todd Davis’ poems “Burn Barrel” and “By the Rivers of Babylon” hold images that heavily contrast with each other to create a stimulating tension. Davis builds the environments in his poems with great purpose. Of his poetry, Davis writes: “Much of my poetry grows out of my lived experience in central Pennsylvania. This is an area of the country that has been abused: clear-cut several times; mined for coal; polluted with the growth of industrialization; and then left to try to heal itself. Sadly, it now finds itself being injured once again with the radical shift to fracking for natural gas. There is poverty here, both in the flesh and in the spirit. There is also great beauty and resilience. I hope that my poems, when taken together, offer glimpses of the people I love and live among the places that sustain our lives.” We are grateful that Davis chose to share his work with us again—two of his earlier poems appear in Issue 14 of Arts & Letters.
Davis is the author of five full-length collections of poetry—Winterkill, In the Kingdom of the Ditch, The Least of These, Some Heaven, and Ripe—as well as of a limited edition chapbook, Household of Water, Moon, and Snow: The Thoreau Poems. “Burn Barrel” and “By the Rivers of Babylon” are from of his fifth book, Winterkill, which Michigan State University Press will publish in January 2016. He edited the nonfiction collection, Fast Break to Line Break: Poets on the Art of Basketball, and co-edited Making Poems: Forty Poems with Commentary by the Poets. His poetry has been featured on the radio by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac and by Ted Kooser in his syndicated newspaper column, American Life in Poetry. He is the winner of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize and the Chautauqua Editors Prize. He is a fellow of the Black Earth Institute and teaches creative writing, American literature, and environmental studies at Pennsylvania State University’s Altoona College.