The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Picture of Ander Monson

Ander Monson

Desert Nights Rising Stars Writers Conference Faculty, 2018

Ander Monson is the author of six books: three of nonfiction (Neck Deep and Other Predicaments, Vanishing Point, and Letter to a Future Lover), two poetry collections (Vacationland and The Available World), and a novel, Other Electricities. A finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Award (for Other Electricities) and a NBCC in criticism (for Vanishing Point), he is also a recipient of a number of other prizes: a Howard Foundation Fellowship, the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, the Annie Dillard Award for Nonfiction, the Great Lakes Colleges New Writers Award in Nonfiction, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He edits the magazine DIAGRAM <>, the New Michigan Press, Essay Daily <>, and a series of yearly literary/music tournaments: March Sadness (2016), March Fadness (2017), and March Shredness (2018). He directs the MFA program at the University of Arizona.

Selected Media


"DIAGRAM is an electronic journal of text and art. As our name indicates, we're interested in representations. In naming. In indicating. In schematics. IN the labelling and taxonomy of things. In poems that masquerade as stories; in stories that disguise themselves as indices or obituaries."

"The Sadness of March: In Search of Extreme Emotion." Ander Monson, The Normal School. See also March Shredness.

"If you’re listening to “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” Elliott Smith, R.E.M., Sinéad O’Connor, Tom Waits, Kate Bush, “Fast Car,” The Cure, Sarah McLachlan, or Neutral Milk Hotel this morning, then it’s you I’m talking to. Or Adagio for Strings, Adele, woeful country, or even, I guess, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”: I say to you, I am your people. I know there are a lot of us out there getting our sad on today. Many of us lead very happy lives. And I like happy things, too. I love pop music, too, though I’m drawn to the down moments in pop songs, the ones where you can hear the darkness creeping into daylight, like in Don Henley’s peerless 1984 single, “Boys of Summer,” which celebrates summer from the perspective of its end.

So what’s up with us? Why am I built this way? I mean, why are we suckers for punishment? I want to know why I like sad songs, and why, though I’m not alone, I like feeling alone. So I created an NCAA basketball / March Madness-style bracket of lonelinesses"

"Letter to a Future Lover." Ander Monson, Brevity (Apr 27, 2012).

"Dear future lover, every time it feels like forever when it’s new: bright colors, fabric softener, calliopes that were once terrifying softening into daylight as it fades. You know, your lovers surely number more than mine; that’s fine, but when I fall, it’s ditch-witch hitting electric line, the whole world alive and lit in amperes for a moment. It might be gone again a nanosecond later, the body aching with or for or from the jolt; and perhaps it’s fever-dream; and who cares where it comes from as long as it’s fast and seems like it might last until we’re rusting into dust. We are always dying for the future. Otherwise it couldn’t ever come."

"The Essay State/The State of the Essay: An Interview with Ander Monson and Craig Reinbold." Lawrence Lenhart, Brazos Bookstore. See also Essay Daily.

"I also think of Essay Daily as a secondary avenue for the kinds of conversations we often try to have in the MFA program (sometimes we are even successful!). Often when I talk about the site, I talk about it as an MFA in a box. It’s funny that we’ve become accustomed to universities—and grad programs in particular—as where students go to become writers, because that’s a very recent phenomenon. I tell my undergrads that while MFAs are great, there are a lot of routes you can take. What you want is mostly just to seek out conversations like the kinds that we try to foment here. Those will almost certainly happen in MFA programs, but they also happen whenever writers meet and talk or write to each other, and if Essay Daily can carve out a bit of that space, it’s all for the better."

"ELF (Extremely Low Frequency)." Ander Monson and Nayda Collazo-Llorens. Video-poem. See also Predator v. Predator Masters and Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies.

our ELF was big and sky
and air and sea and all
our arc was far and won the war