Butts, Anthony 1969-
BUTTS, Anthony 1969-
PERSONAL: Born July 28, 1969, in Detroit, MI; son of Tommie Edward II (an automobile assembly line worker) and Geraldine (a homemaker; maiden name, Ballard) Butts. Education: Wayne State University, B.A., 1992; Western Michigan University, M.A., M.F.A., 1995; University of Missouri—Columbia, Ph.D., 1999. Politics: Independent. Religion: Roman Catholic.
ADDRESSES: Home—5105 Fifth Ave., Apt. 206, Pittsburgh, PA 15232. office—Department of English, Carnegie-Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890. E-mail—[email protected] edu.
CAREER: Poet. Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, faculty member.
MEMBER: Modern Language Association of America, Associated Writing Programs, Academy of American Poets (associate member).
AWARDS, HONORS: Ohio Arts Council grant, 2001.
Fifth Season, New Issues Press (Kalamazoo, MI), 1997.
Evolution, Sutton Hoo Press (Winona, MN), 1998.
Little Low Heaven, New Issues Press (Kalamazoo, MI), 2003.
Also contributor of poems to anthologies, including Giant Steps: The New Generation of African American Writers; American Poetry: The Next Generation; New Poems from the Third Coast: Contemporary Michigan Poetry; and Our Souls Have Grown Deep Like the Rivers: Black Poets Read their Work.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A poetry collection, Eight Modes toward Desire and Other Saint Brigid Poems.
SIDELIGHTS: Anthony Butts once told CA: "Motivation to write poetry stems from the extraordinary details of everyday existence, which usually go unnoticed. I've always felt that poets exist for this purpose, among others. I came to writing relatively late in life, at the age of twenty-one. I had written 'part-time' until then; those early writings were mostly recreational. I thought that I could be both doctor and poet, but poetry proved more fascinating and more difficult. I didn't give up my studies in psychology, for the same reasons that I decided to write poetry. The unconscious and the sublime are the same. Poets paint the landscape of desire.
"My work usually involves interpersonal interactions. My poetry deals with the universe of ideas, from innercity scenes of sex in the park to meditations on the nature of winter—of the snow itself. I consider Robert Hass, Wallace Stevens, and Emily Dickinson to be the largest influences on my work. I should also include the neo-Freudian analyst Jacques Lacan in that group. My critical work is almost always written from a Lacanian perspective, while also being informed by other literary critical voices.
"I was born in Detroit, the seventh of nine children. As a child I was educated in classes for the retarded and the nearly and legally blind. My vision is still 20/1400 uncorrected. Testing into Detroit Renaissance High School, a magnet school, gave me my first opportunity to interact with 'unimpaired' students on a long-term basis. For many reasons, I find that I'm still trying to catch up. I don't feel that I am less or more than others, just different."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
African American Review, winter, 2001, Ruth Ellen Kocher, review of Fifth Season, p. 685.
Absolute Write,http://www.absolutewrite.com/ (September 3, 2003), interview with Butts.
Carnegie-Mellon News Online,http://www.cmu.edu/cmnews/ (December 5, 2001), Lynn Smith, "'Strong, Distinctive Voices' Take Circuitous Routes to Poetry, Carnegie Mellon."