THE WOODSHOP: Allan Peterson

CutBank Online returns to The Woodshop with this submission from Allan Peterson. Review our submission guidelines here, then submit your own Woodshop to

Where do you do your work ?

I start in a notebook, frequently in the heavily wooded yard. I print. I’m an early riser and cherish that time without interruption. When the weather is good, I am outside reading, making notes. For the actual shaping of those notes, I go to my writing room which doubles as a guest room when necessary. It is filled with books, poetry and non fiction, largely science. That library has been my poetic education, having never attended classes or workshop. I came to poetry through the visual arts.

What do you eat or drink while you work?

Nothing. And I do not listen to music. I really work best in silence.


What’s your view like?

From every window I see trees. Directly outside of the window by the desk is a huge incense cedar, from other windows facing the street or back yard, I can only see trees, a little of the mountains beyond. Because I am on the second floor, I am at the level of being in the trees. It is exactly the sense of immersion in nature that I seek, and that influences my work.

What do you keep on your desk?

It's pretty spare- computer, manuscripts of poems in progress, notebooks I work from. A few reminders of practical things like deadlines I might otherwise miss.

Share a recent line/sentence written in this space.

The book said happiness began in the 13th century

but was not applied equally a condition which persists

Allan Peterson is the author of five books; Precarious, 42 Miles Press 2014; Fragile Acts (McSweeney's Poetry Series), a finalist for both the 2013 National Book Critics Circle and Oregon Book Awards; As Much As, Salmon Press, Ireland; All the Lavish in Common, 2005 Juniper Prize, University of Massachusetts; Anonymous Or, Defined Providence Prize 2001 and a number of chapbooks, most recently, Other Than They Seem, winner of the 2014 Snowbound Chapbook Prize from Tupelo Press.

A visual artist as well as a poet, he has taught (art) at The State University of New York, Geneseo, and Pensacola State College (FL) where he was chair of the art department and director of the Switzer Center for Visual Arts until retiring in 2005. He has received fellowships from the NEA and the State of Florida. He lives in Gulf Breeze FL and Ashland OR.