John Skoyles has published six books of poems, A Little Faith; Permanent Change; Definition of the Soul; The Situation; Inside Job and Suddenly It’s Summer: Selected Poems, all with Carnegie-Mellon University Press.  His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Poetry, The American Poetry Review, The Atlantic, Harvard Review, Slate, Yale Review and The Poetry Anthology, 1912 – 2002, among others. He is also the author of two books of nonfiction, Generous Strangers, a collection of personal essays, several of which were broadcast on public radio; and a memoir, Secret Frequencies: A New York Education. His awards include two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as fellowships from the New York and North Carolina Arts Councils. In 2003, he became a member of the Order of the Occult Hand while reviewing books for the Associated Press. He has taught at Southern Methodist University, Sarah Lawrence College, and Warren Wilson College, where he directed the MFA program. He is currently Professor in the Writing, Literature and Publishing Department of Emerson College, and the poetry editor of Ploughshares. He is also a member of the Writing Committee of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. His autobiographical novel, A Moveable Famine: A Life in Poetry, was published by The Permanent Press in 2014.  Quale Press  published The Nut File, a fiction/nonfiction hybrid in 2017.


Interview with August Smith– Woven Tale Press:  http://www.thewoventalepress.net/2017/10/26/wtp-writer-john-skoyles/

“My Mother, Heidegger, and Derrida” in The New Yorker.  July 24, 2017.

“His Shirt” in The Yale Review. Forthcoming.

Skoyles Interviewing Paul Resika at the Fine Arts Work Center – Summer 2017


June 2017  — The Nut File: full-length fiction/nonfiction hybrid  by Quale Press.

THE BOSTON GLOBE:     Poet and Emerson professor John Skoyles’s new book, “The Nut File’’ (Quale), is a curious miscellany. It’s made up of bits of fiction, nonfiction, and the found: small stories, observations, obituaries, academic e-mails, memos, police logs, and personal kernels of wisdom, longing, and regret. Skoyles, who can be both open and wry, writes of a murderer sitting in the bus seat behind him, of bonking his head entering an exit, of academic fires and feuds. There are good questions: “Could there be a memory behind the choice of every mistaken word?” And pithy lines that vibrate with humor and truth: “Life is, after all, just one person after another.” Taken together, the assemblage takes on the messy heft of life. — Nina MacLaughlin GLOBE CORRESPONDENT  JULY 14, 2017


THE NUT FILE captures a world desperately trying to make sense of itself, the frantic regions of lives lived, including that of the author, whose portrait is drawn by the selection and composition of the assembled stories. Comprised of original as well as appropriated material — obituaries, academic emails, private notes, micro-fictions, literary excerpts, weird memos, police logs, hard news, dear Johns and autobiographical confessions — the entries range from the absurd to the grave, from the ambiguous to the bombastic, from the ironic to the tragi-comic. Patti Smith at Allen Ginsberg’s deathbed, a portrait of the founder of One Finger Zen, a Joyce scholar gone mad, tabloid headlines announcing the deaths of Papa Wallenda and Brendan Behan, Chinese proverbs, stories of escaped murderers, cruel nuns and customer experiences at the Cuddle and Bubble spa on Valentine’s Day are all glimpsed in THE NUT FILE. Many voices speak throughout this collection: those of friends, relatives and strangers. Some stories and anecdotes come directly from Jimmy Cannon, Truman Capote, Harold Clurman, Isaac Dinesan, Jim Harrison, Vladimir Nabokov, Georges Perec, and Mary Heaton Vorse, among others.

Available from Amazon and Small Press Distribution:

From Amazon

From SPD


Book Review: Suddenly, It’s Evening “It may be evening, but it’s not yet night.” By Joyce Peseroff, Contributing Editor, The Woven Tale Press

SUDDENLY, IT’S EVENING: SELECTED POEMS, John Skoyles (Carnegie Mellon, 2016). 112 pp. $16.95 INSIDE JOB, John Skoyles (Carnegie Mellon, 2016). 72 pp. $12.25.

John Skoyles has had a long career as a poet, memoirist, novelist, essayist, editor, and academic. The title of his selected poems, Suddenly, It’s Evening, has a valedictory sound. (Disclosure: he and I share a publisher, and I taught at Emerson College while he chaired the Writing, Literature and Publishing program. Editor’s Note: John Skoyles is also a contributing editor to the press.) Many poems in this collection feel elegiac, written in the voice of a man whose understanding of the world has left him sadder but wiser. He’s a poet of sorrows rather than griefs, and deep affection more than hot love. Among his subjects are family, marriage and divorce, friendship, illness and mortality, the perils and pleasures of a full glass of whiskey, and the neighborhoods in New York City and the outer Cape where he grew up and where he settled. Skoyles’s language is conversational and his tone often wry, seasoned now and then with a dash of surrealism. He builds his poems as carefully as a comic builds a joke, and ends each adroitly with a sharp, unexpected, yet thoroughly satisfying turn.

Both Suddenly, It’s Evening and Inside Job divulge a lifetime’s acquaintance with what can and cannot be restored. On one side is friendship, parenthood, family history, and roots that dig into nourishing soil. On the other is time and its attendant erosions. John Skoyles notes it all with compassion, modesty, and grace.

Read entire review here:


Copyright 2017 Woven Tale Press LLC. All Rights Reserved.

OCTOBER 2016: SUDDENLY IT’S EVENING: SELECTED POEMS.  https://www.amazon.com/Suddenly-Its-Evening-Selected-Carnegie/dp/0887486150/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

OCTOBER 2016: INSIDE JOB: NEW POEMS. https://www.amazon.com/Inside-Job-Carnegie-Mellon-Poetry/dp/0887486142/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

“No Surprises,” “Granville,” “Despair,” “Portrait of a Portrait Painter,” “Inside Job,” and “Academe.” Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche, Spring 2016, Volume 10, Number 2.  “Skoyles dips deep into archetypal themes through images of personal experience to achieve an effect that is evocative and moving.”

“Johnny London: A Memoir.” Five Points: A Journal of Literature & Art. Winter 2016, Vol. 17 No. 1.  Listed as one of the Notable Essays in Best American Essays 2015, Jonathan Franzen, editor.

“And Then Something Like This Happens: On the Poetry of John Skoyles,”  essay by David Rigsbee in Not Alone in My Dancing: Essays and Reviews. Black Lawrence Press, 2016.



Ploughshares Blog: The Neutral Corner.

October 23, 2015: http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/discovering-milton-resnick/

May 1, 2015:  http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/the-neutral-corner-michael-hofmanns-where-have-you-been-and-gottfried-benns-impromptus/

July 3, 2015:  http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/the-neutral-corner-nicholas-fox-webers-the-bauhaus-group/

13 poems in the American Poetry Review.  January/February issue 2015. Cover photo by Shef Reynolds II.  Painting by Emilia Dubicki.


David Rigsbee’s essay on A Little Faith, Permanent Change, Definition of the Soul and The Situation is published in The Cortland Review: “And Then Something Like This Happens: On the Poetry of John Skoyles.”


WGBH-TV ‘s Greater Boston panelist Jabari Asim chooses A Moveable Famine as a “must-read book of the summer.”

LIBRARY JOURNAL lists A Moveable Famine in Top Indie Fiction: 30 Key Titles Beyond the Best-Sellers List for Spring/Summer 2014.

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY gives A Moveable Famine a starred review and makes it Pick of the Week.

Some Publications:

The List in Plume

How My Wine Turned to Water, an op-ed essay in The New York Times

Autobiography in The New Yorker

After Tanikawa; He’s Had It; and The Beech Forest in Hotel Amerika

Cyborg Shenanigans in Devouring the Green: Fear of a Human Planet, an anthology edited by Sam Witt.

Killer and Coal Bin in Plume

Music Appreciation  in B O D Y

A Stay at Yaddo in Five Points, reprinted in Poetry Daily




  1. Nice comment piece in the New York Times. Stay the course. It’s worth it in the end. Take care.

  2. Just read your piece in NYT and loved it. The greatest lie alcoholism tells us is that sobriety is an awful experience; I used to view sobriety like a stint in prison. But it turns out alcohol is the prison, and freedom is greater than we can possibly imagine.

    1. well said Clara….I watched the last half hour of Flight the other night….for the tenth time…and at the end when Denzel, in prison, having admitted his guilt claims to his fellow inmates that he feels free….despite his 5 year sentence….that really rings home for me, because I no longer carry around that ball and chain…at least for today…and I feel free as well

  3. In re: How My Wine Turned to Water: What a good friend you have in her! Good luck. One day at a time.

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