Catching Up With Timothy Otte

Where can we read some of your recent work?

My first chapbook is called Rebound, Restart, Renew, Rebuild, Rejoice and was published by Lithic Press in 2019. You can order it here. I’ve also been working on English-to-English translations of biblical psalms using Franck André Jamme’s “tablet poem” form. Pieces from Psalms After Jamme have appeared in TIMBER, FEELINGS, and Sink Review, among others.


What are you reading right now?

I’ve spent the last year or so slowly reading all of W.G. Sebald’s work. I started with The Rings of Saturn, which I loved, and then read Austerlitz, which is a perfect book as far as I’m concerned. I’ve never gone back to novels to reread passages, but I find myself pulling Austerlitz out regularly to experience the sentences and movement again. I don’t think I’ll ever stop thinking about it or be done reading it. I just finished The Emigrants, which feels like a proto-Austerlitz (naturally, I adored it), and I’m now reading After Nature, a collection of three free verse sequences of poetry. It’s Sebald’s first literary work and the first of his books to be published in English after his untimely death in 2001.

As for poetry, two poets based in Minneapolis that I think should be more widely read are Lara Mimosa Montes and Chaun Webster. Lara’s new book is called Thresholes and I can open it to any page at any time and find something to marvel at. It’s about time, place, art, and grief, and all the things that exist in the gaps between them. I’ve written about Chaun’s book, GeNtry!fication: or the scene of the crime, before, but it’s been hugely influential to me as I think about history and geography, and the ways racism has changed the landscapes around us. The book’s use of typography and image are explosive, but I’m always floored by the notes and bibliography, which are vital to my understanding of the rest of the book.

What’s next for you?

I facilitate a monthly poetry book club at SubText Books in St. Paul and volunteer as a mentor with the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop, two of my favorite activities. My first full-length manuscript, Landscape Quartet, was recently finalist for the 2020 Colorado Prize for Poetry and will, I hope, be an object you can hold in the near future. I’m hoping to finish making Psalms After Jamme this year and begin sending that out as well. In the meantime, I post about interesting buildings and shapes—as well as poetry collections I love—on Instagram and I rot my brain on Twitter.

Timothy Otte is a poet and critic. He is the author of the chapbook Rebound, Restart, Renew, Rebuild, Rejoice (Lithic Press, 2019) and recipient of a 2019 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant. His poems have appeared in Denver Quarterly, Sixth Finch, Reservoir, SAND Journal, and Structo, among others. His criticism has appeared in LitHub, Orion, the Poetry Project Newsletter, and elsewhere. Otte facilitates the monthly Poetry Book Club at Subtext Books in St. Paul, lives in Minneapolis, and keeps a home on the internet: www.timothyotte.com. Say his last name like body.