Tom Simmons


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Tom Simmons, an associate professor of English at the University of Iowa, spent 2011 writing a poem a day and posting them on Facebook. This On the Fly interview was recorded on the 200th day of the project.

In the interview, he discusses the unusual arc of his writing and teaching career, his “appalling work habits that lead to daily poems,” and how work as a translator helps him recharge for his own work. He also speaks of his interest in “why it is that we so often do the wrong thing” and his “great skepticism about the nature of spirituality as I received it.”

He argues, “One of the functions of poetry is to accumulate those wrong questions in a body that you can actually return to and say, ‘Well, that’s not right, but it’s interesting. And that’s not right either, but that’s interesting.’ But if you look at these two things that aren’t right and you put them together, you get a world that looks a little different.”

Simmons’ bibliography includes, The Unseen Shore: Memories of a Christian Science Childhood (1991), A Season in the Air: One Man’s Adventures in Flying (1993), Erotic Reckonings: Mastery and Apprenticeship in the Work of Poets and Lovers (1994), Ghost Man: Reflections on Evolution, Love, and Loss (2001), The Burning Child: Essays on Mental Health and Illness (2005), Imperial Affliction: Eighteenth-Century British Poets and Their Twentieth-Century Lives (2010), and Poets’ First and Last Books in Dialogue (2012).