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Piper Center’s Jensen finds poetry success

February 06, 2008

When Charles Jensen was 13, he began writing poetry.

“I probably would have stopped if I hadn’t had a teacher in high school who encouraged me,” he says.

Jensen, who’s the assistant director of the Piper Center for Creative Writing, recently had his third chapbook published. It’s titled “The Strange Case of Maribel Dixon.”

The chapbook, published by New Michigan Press, is a combination of prose, poetry, science fiction and romance. It’s the story of Edward Dixon’s attempts to reach the Ghost World, and his subsequent success when he sends his wife, Maribel, who is dying of cancer, to the Ghost World via its only known entrance point: the telephone.

Jensen, who earned his master of fine arts degree in creative writing with an emphasis in poetry from ASU, is studying for a master’s degree in nonprofit studies at ASU.

A degree from the Center for Nonprofit Leadership and Management in the College of Public Programs “will help me understand how things should work at the Piper Center,” Jensen says, adding: “I would like to continue working in arts management. I enjoy it.”
Jensen’s other two chapbooks are “Living Things,” which won the 2006 Frank O’Hara Chapbook Award, and “Little Burning Edens,” winner of the inaugural Red Mountain Review Chapbook Award in 2005.

He also has collaborated on several artists’ books and has had poetry published in numerous journals, reviews and anthologies.

Jensen says entering chapbook contests is becoming “the main route to publication for poets.”

“There are more and more contests,” he says. “You have to pay a small fee to send in your manuscripts. The publisher will sell the chapbook of the winner. They will usually print 500 copies. Most poetry books will not have a run of more than 1,000 copies.”
Jensen says the idea for “The Strange Case of Maribel Dixon’ came out of his experience in being in a long-distance relationship.
“I also like to work in a way that exaggerates,” he says.

He wrote the poems first, then added the prose backstory, which “came quickly,” he says.

Jensen is working on a novel and two other poetry projects, and he’s booked for readings at Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe March 7 and Tempe Poetry at 7 p.m., April 9, at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

Anyone interested in purchasing a copy of “The Strange Case of Maribel Dixon” can contact Jensen at (480) 727-0815. The cost is $8.