Bruce Haxton

Unlike the legions of layered students trudging through wind and slush with chattering teeth and the beginnings of arctic-induced tears, poet and creative-writing professor Brooks Haxton draws inspiration from the unending, bleak winters of Syracuse. In fact, much of Haxton’s work, including eight collections of poetry, highlights the changing seasons and landscapes of upstate New York and iconic fixtures of Syracuse (from Green Lakes to Destiny USA). He also tackles the troubles and pleasures life likes to deliver. In Fading Hearts on the River: A Life in High-Stakes Poker, Haxton chronicles the poker addiction of his son Isaac, who has won more than $8 million at live tournaments. “One compelling factor to which Haxton frequently returns is the idea of chance. He puts his poetry skills to excellent use, spinning out language that is often beautiful and evocative,” wrote a reviewer for Kirkus Reviews. “The book is not just about his son’s competitive gambling career; it’s also a poetic memorial to the poignant moments in his life, his son’s life and their shared life.”

Here, in one poem, “Prospectus: In Lieu of the Mall Expansion,” Haxton details his hatred for Destiny USA:

I propose a shrimp ramp,
so that the shrimp can fly
from my yard over the lilacs
into the tamarack next door,
the way infected crows
and chickadees do now.
Your scheme to make our mall
the biggest mall on earth
is boring.

— Megan Callahan