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Poets Are Present: Donald Illich

Poets are Present is a poetry residency in conjunction with David Ives’s adaptation of The Metromaniacs. As part of this unique theatre/poetry exchange, the Shakespeare Theatre Company is proud to host more than 30 D.C.-area poets in the theatre’s lobby. Throughout the run, we will share with you the poems that this residency inspired our guests to write. Visit our Poets are Present page to see a list of upcoming poets.

Donald Illich‘s work has appeared in journals such as The Illich_DonaldIowa ReviewLITNimrodPassages NorthRattle, and Sixth Finch. He has been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize and received a scholarship from the Nebraska Summer Writers Conference. He self-published a chapbook, Rocket Children, in 2012, and he currently lives in Rockville, MD.


He’s Not a Poet, But He Plays One

by Donald Illich

The readers are here, climbing
through the pages, ready for a poem.
Will that simile be too whimsical,
pushing away attention?  Stupid,

dumb metaphor!  I shouldn’t have put
that in my lines, it’ll catch up with me.
Is that a brow knit in confusion?
Maybe more pop cultural references

were needed?  Eyes rolling?  Throw
in a classical allusion no one gets.
Oh, Lord, this verse is doomed.
No one will put it in an anthology…

But, wait, I think I hear applause!
Fathers reading this to their sons.
Teachers sharing it in their classes.
I’m hearing this could win a Pushcart.

Or maybe earn Best American.
I will not give up on these words.
Revise, revise, revise.  Into the heart
of the audience.  Into the spirit, too.


The Purple Dog Is Sleeping

by Donald Illich

The purple dog is sleeping.
Time sticky as honey.
When will the buds begin to show?
Moo.  Moo.
A cup of hot chocolate!
The chummy rummy guitar
Art is the soul speaking
She saw the man dressed in purple and orange
looking like a sunset gone wrong.

Author’s Note: The Purple Dog was created through a surrealist poetry game.  Members of the audience were asked to contribute one line to the poem, without seeing what came before their line.  It’s called “Exquisite Corpse.”

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