Sycamore • Oriole cover photo
Ken McCullough author photo
  • Series: Modern & Contemporary 42
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-916272-50-0
  • ISBN-10: 0-916272-50-8
  • Pages: 72
  • Size: 0.325 x 6.0 x 8.5 in
  • Price: $9.95

Sycamore • Oriole

Ken McCullough

McCullough’s poems are like songs—long, roving songs that wander the bitter cold slope of the eastern Rockies from the Crazies into the Wyoming Badlands. As Ed Folsom says in his introduction to the book, “McCollough’s dialect of ease and informality (working to de-form and re-form and in-form the shape of the poem)…neatly captures a cleaning out of a part of the self, turning the self lean, emptying the vowels, ridding the self of selfishness, a ritual of purgation.” From this ritual, McCullough’s work rises, easily, effortlessly, exploring everything from the smallest particle of dust to the self to the whole momentum of humanity.


The full text of Ken McCullough’s Sycamore • Oriole is stored at Albertson Library at Boise State University, and can be downloaded here. You may also purchase a copy of the book.

excerpted from Daysweat


“Only one who takes upon himself

the evils of the world

may be its king”

I, no king—a mere pretender


slumped inside my own emotions

begin to weep—

sweat, snot

tears, toxins

flowing out of me

I clear my nose

backwoods fashion

Let what is broken, knit!

Make the two voices one!


Copyright © 1991 by Ken McCullough

Ken McCullough author photoKen McCullough’s most recent books of poetry are Obsidian Point (2003) and Walking Backwards (2005), as well as a book of stories, Left Hand (2004). He has received numerous awards for his poetry including the Academy of American Poets Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Pablo Neruda Award, a Galway Kinnell Poetry Prize, the New Millennium Poetry Award, the Blue Light Book Award and the Capricorn Book Award. He has also received grants from the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry, the Iowa Arts Council, and the Jerome Foundation to continue translating the work of U Sam Oeur, survivor of the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia. Sacred Vows, a bilingual edition of U’s poetry with McCullough’s translations, was published in 1998. U’s memoir, Crossing Three Wildernesses, co-written with McCullough, was published in 2005. McCullough lives in Winona, Minnesota with his wife and younger son. He is an administrator at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and teaches writing courses for the Hawk’s Well Literary Center.