Richard Garcia, MFA

Affiliate Faculty, Creative Nonfiction
MFA in Creative Writing
(310) 578-1080

MFA in Creative Writing, Warren Wilson College, Asheville, NC

Richard Garcia (poetry) is the author of three books of poetry, The Flying Garcias (University of Pittsburgh Press), Rancho Notorious (BOA Editions), The Persistence of Objects (BOAEditions), and a bilingual children’s book, My Aunt Otilia’s Spirits (Children’sBook Press). His poetry has appeared in many journals, such as The Georgia Review, Crazyhorse, The Cortland Review and Ploughshares. His work is also included in anthologies, among them, The Best of the Prose Poem, Mother Songs, UrbanNature, Touching the Fire, and Best American Poetry 2005.

He is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Pushcart Prize, the Mudfish Prize from Mudfish Magazine, the Greensboro Award from the Greensboro Review, the Cohen Award from Ploughshares, and the Georgetown Prize from the Georgetown Review. He was poet-in-residence at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles for twelve years, where he conducted workshops in art and poetry for hospitalized children. His most recent publication is a chapbook of prose poems, Chickenhead, from Foot Hills Publishing. He teaches at the Antioch low residency in LA and privately online. Richard’s website is www.richardgarcia.info.

I don’t believe poems should be boring. I don’t care for poems that are actually mini-essays or creative non-fiction. I value surprise, form and structure. I value the play of language and the music of words and thought. I like, and this is not a metaphor, poems that give you what I call The Chill. For me it’s a physical sensation, usually at the back of my neck. I showed a friend of mine a poem by Tess Gallagher and the hair on her forearms stood up. That’s what I’m talking about.

I teach the creation of poems like this using two methods. First, I shake things up, get you to write backwards or to get lost and not have the slightest idea what you are doing. Poetry is discovery, not exposition. To write what you know is helpful but even better is to write from what you don’t know. Second, I stress the form and structure that is in every poem and help you to find it or learn it.

While definitions of poetry aren’t much help to us as writers and readers, I do find it useful to think of what poems are made of: memory and imagination, with attention to language, attention to form and structure, and a dash of randomness. Poems are a balance of thought, feeling, and music. The music in a poem is connotative and denotative; it has to do with sensations evoked by sound elements, and also with the meanings of the words and the associations that arise.

National Endowment of the Arts, 1991

The Flying Garcias, University of Pittsburgh Press
Rancho Notorious, BOA Editions
The Persistence of Objects, BOA Editions
Chickenhead, Foothills Publishing