Sue Carnahan

Sue CarnahanSue Carnahan is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of the 7 Carmine Poetry Collective, based in New York City. She received her M.F.A. from the University of Arizona and currently lives in Tumacácori. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals including Barrow Street and Rattapallax.

Books by Sue Carnahan for the Backwaters Press

Auto Repair Auto Repair by Sue Carnahan

Author: Sue Carnahan
Format: Paperback, 28 pages
ISBN: 0972618767
Published: January 2005

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Awards for Auto Repair

The Weldon Kees Award 2004

Critical Praise for Auto Repair

The challenge of the short lyric is not to say too little and not to say too much. In fragments of anecdotes, logical parallelisms, human paradoxes and instruction manuals, all lucid, and fluid and terse, this series is as remarkable for what it doesn’t do as for what it does. It never judges, but gives perspective in moments of dead-pan comedy and the ambiguous wisdom of Confucian-like hypotheses. In its weaving of garage mechanics with the delicate evolution of relationship, it shows that marriage can be learned in the same way as a trade, on the job, with jammed thumbs and missing parts. A loving warmth seeps through the essential sadness of the doomed marriage, as when the eccentric husband is distracted at work and forgets to smoke each cigarette he lights: “Later they were like / little ghosts on top of / empty beer cans.” In the tradition of Basho and Sappho and George Oppen, this book meets the challenge, and makes us, if not better spouses, then better people.
Steve Orlen – Recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and three NEA Awards

Sly, dry, disturbing and fun, Auto Repair records a marriage’s dissolution in a slow motion detonation. I’ve read it many times, and it always re-rewards. A splendid debut.
Boyer Rickel – Author of arreboles

Poems from Sue Carnahan’s Auto Repair

Human Error by James Reason

Some mistakes happen before
there is a problem.
These are called “slips” or “lapses.”

Other mistakes happen during
management of a problem.

There are two types:
Rule-based (RB) errors occur when
you apply routine solutions
to problems they are not adequate to solve.

Knowledge-based (KB) errors occur when
you run out of routine solutions.

Reason says, Mistakes at the KB level
have hit-and-miss qualities
not dissimilar to the errors of beginners

William James on Love and Friendship

We’re grateful he always has a job, my mother said.
I didn’t tell them when he didn’t.
Why call when things are going badly?

On the day I left the Bronco had a leak and I had to go back.
He helped me fix it. I dropped the starter;
he hammered a freeze plug in.


He repaired his own gashed fingers with electrical tape and a dab
of grease.
He sucked on a bad tooth until the nerve quieted or came out.
Always his hands could find the knot in my back.
He once made a dentist X-ray his toe instead of his teeth.

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