George Drew was born in Mississippi and raised there and in New York State, where he currently lives. He is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently The View from Jackass Hill, the 2010 winner of the X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize, Texas Review Press, 2011. His sixth collection, Fancy’s Orphan, will be published in 2017 by Tiger Bark Press. One of his poems appeared in the anthology Down to the Dark River in 2015, Louisiana Literature Press, and two more will appear in The Great American Wise Ass Anthology of Poetry in 2016, Lamar University Literary Press. His reviews and essays have appeared, or will, in Louisiana Literature, FutureCycle, Off the Coast, BigCityLit, The Texas Review, Literary Matters (ALSCW—Boston), Main Street Rag, Atticus Review and Valparaiso Poetry Review. His poems have appeared in such journals as Gargoyle Magazine, Main Street Rag, The Schuylkill Valley Journal, Harpur Palate, North Dakota Quarterly, Quiddity, The Healing Muse, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Chautauqua Literary Journal, The Paterson Literary Review, Vermont Literary Review, The New Guard, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Common Ground Review, St. Petersburg Review and Solstice Magazine. He was nominated in 2013, 2014 and 2016 for a Pushcart Prize. A finalist for the 2013 Robert Phillips Chapbook Prize, his chapbook, Down & Dirty, was published in June, 2015 (Texas Review Press). His most recent book, New & Selected, Pastoral Habits, was published in June and nominated by Texas Review Press for both the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Award and the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award. Drew has won several awards, most recently the St. Petersburg Review Poetry Contest, 2014. He recently was nominated for the 2015 Best of the Net award. georgedrew.com
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Please tell us about your earliest interest in writing, what bookstores you like best, what’s on your nightstand, and what keeps you inspired.
I remember falling in love with language when I won an award in fourth grade for best handwriting. I thought, Wow! Writing out words on paper is such a neat thing! Soon I graduated to books, which I have of course been reading all my life, and which explains, too, why I read them as paper print, not as ebooks—though of course I do read digital on computer screens. The other joy with books is browsing through them in bookstores. I don’t really have a favorite one specifically, but I tend toward independent bookstores, not chains. Generally, then, books are a constant in my life, as I’m sure they must be for any writer. For instance, at the moment I have two books open on my nightstand—Shakespeare of London by Marchette Chute, a classic biography of The Bard, and a collection of poems by Wendy Barker, One Blackbird at a Time, which focuses on the teaching of poetry and other literature, a delightful and insightful romp through the world of education. Reading, then, is really my twin passion, as well as being one of my muses.