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‘Iggy Horse’: Michael Earl Craig on “castle energy,” genre, and the wind

Wave Poetry, Civitella Ranieri Foundation
Michael Earl Craig, author of ‘Iggy Horse’ (Wave Poetry).

This week on The Write Question, Lauren speaks with Livingston, Montana-based poet (and former Montana Poet Laureate) Michael Earl Craig, author of Iggy Horse (Wave Poetry).

In Earl’s sixth book, poems resonate with an inscrutable logic that feels excitedly otherworldly and unsettlingly familiar, whether he be writing about the cadaver that Hans Holbein the Younger used as a model, Montana as the “Italy of God,” or the milking rituals in Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow. Not merely absurdist, Iggy Horse is a book that articulates the sadness and strangeness of American life with the poetic observations of true satire.

From the episode introduction: “Through word association and a philosophical reference of, and reverence for, art and film, Iggy Horse sees the poet and the book’s speakers reflecting on their lives—and on death. Lest you think this collection, or this conversation, heading in a dark direction, rest assured: [Lauren’s conversation with Earl is full of levity and laughter—talk of cowboy songs, genre, castles in Italy, and the wind in Livingston, Montana. I was able to snag this conversation with Earl while he was in Missoula for the 2023 Montana Book Festival.”

This conversation, as noted above, was recorded in partnership with the 2023 Montana Book Festival, where Earl appeared as a participating author.

About Earl:

Michael Earl Craig is from Dayton, Ohio, home of the gas mask and the mood ring. He is the author of Iggy Horse (Wave Books, 2023), Woods and Clouds Interchangeable (Wave Books, 2019), Talkativeness (Wave Books, 2014), Thin Kimono (Wave Books, 2010), Yes, Master (Fence Books, 2006), Can You Relax in My House (Fence Books, 2002), and the chapbook Jombang Jet (Factory Hollow Press, 2012). He lives in Montana, where he makes his living as a farrier. He was the 2015-2017 Poet Laureate of Montana.

Michael Earl Craig recommends:

The Art Thief: A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession by Michael Finkel (Alfred A. Knopf)

The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Edward Snow (W. W. Norton & Company)

Michael Earl Craig is about to read:

Every Man for Himself and God Against All by Werner Herzog, translated by Michael Hoffmann (Penguin Random House)

Lauren Korn recommends:

Iggy Horse and Woods and Clouds Interchangeable by Michael Earl Craig (Wave Poetry)

Tolstoy Killed Anna Karenina and You Good Thing by Dara Barrois/Dixon (Wave Poetry)

Why Poetry by Matthew Zapruder (Ecco Press)

“Because Poetry,” a conversation between Michael Earl Craig and Matthew Zapruder (2020 Montana Book Festival)

Fort Not by Emily Skillings (The Song Cave)

Black Observatory by Christopher Brean Murray (Milkweed Editions)

The Government Lake and Dome of the Hidden Pavilion by James Tate (Ecco Press)

The Write Question team for this episode was Lauren Korn, host, co-producer, and editor; and Jake Birch, co-producer and editor; and Chris Moyles, sound engineer. This episode is sponsored by Elk River Books in Livingston, Montana, offering new, used, and rare books—and frequent author readings in their line-up of events offered each season. A full events calendar and online shopping can be found at

The Write Question logo and brand (2022) was designed by Molly Russell. You can see more of her work at and on Instagram @iamthemollruss. Our music was written and recorded by John Floridis.

Funding for The Write Question comes from Humanities Montana; members of Montana Public Radio; and from the Greater Montana Foundation—encouraging communication on issues, trends, and values of importance to Montanans.

The Write Question is a production of Montana Public Radio.

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Lauren R. Korn holds an M.A. in poetry from the University of New Brunswick, where she was the recipient of the Tom Riesterer Memorial Prize and the Angela Ludan Levine Memorial Book Prize. A former bookseller and the former Director of the Montana Book Festival, she is now an Arts and Culture Producer at Montana Public Radio and the host of it’s literature-based radio program and podcast, ‘The Write Question.’
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