The Sunday Poem: Erin Adair-Hodges... Where [Chekhov] Was Coming From

Even if you’re very familiar with stories written by Erin Adair-Hodges, the Alibi’s Arts and Literature Editor, you are probably not familiar with her work as a poet. Guess what? Erin was the 2004-2005 Poetry Fellow at the University of Arizona where she received her MFA. Next fall, to cap off her work at the Alibi, she’ll be teaching poetry at CNM (along with her usual English courses). Erin lives in a brown house with her husband, musician Sean McCullough, and their cat and dog. She is currently working on completing a chapbook on Chekhov entitled "Having Seen the Gun, We Accept a Bloody Ending."

“The series about Anton Pavlovich Chekhov started very much as an experiment, moving away from the narrative work I had been doing. I'm also something of a Russophile, so it was a blast to immerse myself in his work and world. I've recently come back from a three-year poetry hiatus and am working on fleshing these out into a chapbook, though I don't know yet where Chekhov will take me...”—Erin Adair-Hodges

I. Where He Was Coming From

Chekhov was a sickly boy. Chekhov was stout.
Both things are true. Chekhov did not love
his father nor did he hate him. Neither holds
for mom. Young Anton Pavlovich enjoyed puns,
Greek curse words, and the audacity of birds.
Schoolmates called him Big Head. He was not considered
especially bright nor especially conceited but had
an especially large head. Big Head, Small Body.
Villagers in Taganrog wondered at the miracle
of his balance. Villagers in Taganrog barely noticed
our small Anton upon going into his father's store
for matches and tea. The smell of parafin and cheese
was overwhelming. The place was a mess. Villagers
in Taganrog more often went to his father's brother's
store. Taganrog was a small place. Taganrog was on
the Gulf of Taganrog in the Sea of Azov which in turn
flirts into the Black Sea. Taganrog sounds like a drag.
Years after he left, dear Anoshka returned for a visit.
The drabness, emptiness, lazy slothful dirtiness
of Taganrog made him long for Moscow
and its typhus. Typhus is a disease that causes severe headaches,
a rash. There is fever, dizzying, delirium. It is spread
by the tiny nicking of fleas and ticks who travel
on hairy carriages of rodents.
Chekhov's father Pavel died in Taganrog.
Anton expressed regret at not being there. He disliked him
and would have been pleased at being able to save him.

Submissions to The Sunday Poem are always welcome. Contact:

Views: 240

Comment by cc on June 7, 2009 at 9:50am
Erin - thank you for this view into someone in our lives - Chekhov's plays are well known. And a view into the geography, culture and intimacy of his life. It's not easy to paint a life from a faraway place and time, and you did this for us.
Comment by cathyray on June 7, 2009 at 12:26pm
great, great stuff. I dearly love starting my Sundays with Ditch Rider these days. Ben Moffett is so right. What a vivid picture I have seen this morning.
Comment by elrose on June 8, 2009 at 10:10am
This is wonderful. I love the tone throughout.

And thanks, Ditch Rider, for these Sunday postings. I look forward to them every week.
Comment by Merimee Moffitt on June 9, 2009 at 6:00pm
Kind of funny, this poem--one doesn't often think of a whole village being "a mess . . .lazy, slothful, dirtiness." Looking fw to more poems from Erin.
Comment by Margaret Randall on June 13, 2009 at 11:40am
I just LOVE this poem... one of the best the Ditch Rider's had! Bravo!


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