My first book of poetry--Strong-Armed Angels—was published by Hummingbird Press, and three of its poems were read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer's Almanac. My second book was a series of poems concerning the Iraq war, Every Seed of the Pomegranate. I then co-translated with Abbas Kadhim the selected poems of Adnan al-Sayegh, the Iraqi poet, which was published as Bombs have Not Breakfasted Yet. I wrote Black Ice, a book length series of poems about my father's dementia and death, and a chapbook which won the Mary Ballard award: Take Wing, about my mother-in-law's cancer. I'm currently finishing a book of poems about my year as a Fulbright lecturer in Xi'an, China, and writing a long narrative poem about the friendship between a US soldier and an Iraqi interpreter. I'm also creating an anthology of poems about the artwork of Bruegel and Bosch with my art historian mother, co-translating young Chinese poets with my former graduate students, and co-translating young Iraqi poets with Abbas Kadhim. I teach literature and film at Cabrillo Community College, in Santa Cruz, California, where I live with my family.
David Allen Sullivan's Poetry Books
Available through the presses listed below
Available from Hummingbird Press
David Sullivan is a poet of awakening, of learning how to read the ‘signatures of the invisible.’ If life is miraculous, and it is, then we are surrounded with its signatures. But for many of us they are invisible—we are too busy swimming in the quotidian to see them. Sometimes it takes a poem to wake us to the miraculous, that they may be received. David Sullivan is a master of that kind of poem. Over and over in Strong-Armed Angels he demonstrates for us, ‘It’s not the world / we must shrink from, but our fear of it.’
—Joseph Stroud, author of Signatures, Below Cold Mountain, and Country of Light
Every Seed of the Pomegranate
Through the hard lens of the recent war in Iraq, the poems in David Allen Sullivan's Every Seed of the Pomegranate span the wide landscapes of history, culture, and mythology. More importantly, Sullivan's gaze is steeped in compassion for all connected to the combat zone; these finely crafted poems investigate and interrogate that which is most deeply human. During a recent trip to Baghdad I was asked by an Iraqi poet, "When will the artists in America create work in conversation with us?" Every Seed of the Pomegranate is a necessary part of this neglected and difficult conversation. --Brian Turner, Here, Bullet; Phantom Noise
Available through Turning Point Press
Anyone who has lived through the experience of a parent’s death will find much that is achingly familiar in Sullivan’s Black Ice. At one point he questions the nature of the gods: 'What if gods are blessed with attentiveness?...never / cease their open-mouthed astonished nodding.' If true, then Sullivan joins them!" --Ellen Bass
Seed Shell Ash
Book of poems about my year teaching and traveling in China as a Fulbright Scholar, coming from Salmon Press, March 2020. Launch at AWP San Antonio
By the remains of the Han dynasty wall in Xi’an—
rows of low bermed hills with historical placards—
the four of us wait for the Walk sign to change
and usher us across all eight lanes of traffic.
My family and I have been here almost a week.
The red figure with a circle for a head
stands motionless in a high metal box
perched on a pole across the wide street.
I’m distracted by a bus ad, and when I look
a green man’s replaced him, saunters along
carefree. We follow the crowd, match his strides,
his gait inspires ours: man man zou—take your time—
but then his tick-tock-tick legs quicken,
start to blur, until he’s at a dead sprint
and we are too,
running for our lives.
Bombs Have Not Breakfasted Yet
Available from the Iraqi Cultural Council, London
Dr. Abbas Kadhim is an Iraqi-American academic specializes in Iraq, Iran, Persian Gulf, and Islam. He is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute, SAIS- Johns Hopkins University and the President of the Institute of Shia Studies in Washington, D.C. He is the author of Reclaiming Iraq: the 1920 Revolution and the Founding of the Modern State, Univ. of Texas Press, 2012; and “The Hawza under Siege: A Study in the Ba’th Party Archives“, Boston Univ., 2013.
David Allen Sullivan’s books include: Strong-Armed Angels, Every Seed of the Pomegranate, a book of co-translations from the Arabic of Iraqi Adnan Al-Sayegh undertaken with Abbas Kadhim, Bombs Have Not Breakfasted Yet, and Black Ice, about his father’s dementia and death. Most recently, he won the Mary Ballard Chapbook poetry prize for Take Wing. He teaches at Cabrillo College, where he edits the Porter Gulch Review with his students, and lives in Santa Cruz with his family.
Available from Casey Shay Press
WINNER of the 2016 Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize. From the sweetness of picking blackberries while one is dying to witnessing how cancer "hollows bones," the poems in Take wing speak lyrically of the process of letting go. "The loss of loved ones is central to our shared humanity, and with Take Wing, David Allen Sullivan has given us poems that confront death with the mineral strength of a spiritual warrior and at the same time sing the world like the gentlest lover. " Rosemary Catacalos, author of Again for the First Time. "These poems are beacons lighting the liminal space between the body's heat and its inevitable decline. The tunnels they take us through are leading, always, toward a place of greater heat." Danusha Lameris, author of The Moons of August.
Anthology Call for Submissions
Submit Ekphrasis Poems for possible inclusion in a planned Anthology, to be edited by David Allen Sullivan and his mother, the art historian Margaret Sullivan. The editors invite you to send your poems about any of the paintings, drawings, or other artwork by Hieronymus Bosch or Bruegel the Elder. Deadline: February 1st, 2018.
The first section of my long narrative poem about the friendship between an Iraqi interpreter and a US soldier, Nightjars, just won first place in the Golden Walkman's second annual Audio Chapbook Contest. Details forthcoming!
(artwork by Laura Ortiz for Nightjars)
Our Recent Posts