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Rebecca Hazelton's HobbyHorse

How to Take an Author Photo

1. Wearing a scarf or heavy jacket or scarf and heavy jacket, look out onto the snowy mid-western landscape. Extra points if male, bearded or non, and you are near a river. Preferably frozen, like your heart, after she/he left you.

2. Emerge from (a) fields (b) bracken (c) trees. Best if you are a lady. Women are very tied to the earth. Women feel things.

3. Use “urban” landscape. This could be a wall with graffiti, stacks of wooden palates, abandoned buildings overgrown by kudzu, a burned out car. You are dangerous. So is your work.

4. Show off your secondary sexual characteristics. If male, this means you are bearded. Just like in middle school, the ability to grow facial hair is highly lauded by the writer community. Goatees also work. If female, beards are less useful, but you can show a saucy bit of shoulder, or even lounge on what appear to be bedsheets, if conventionally attractive.

5. Conversely, button that up. Turtlenecks for everyone. You are far too serious to admit to having ever encountered puberty, sexual feelings, or sweaty palms. It’s all about the work, which is life, or would be, if life weren’t such a damn joke.

6. Accessorize. Wear glasses. If a gentleman and hairline is receding, wear glasses, goatee, and shave head. This is especially good if you consider yourself a member of the avant garde, although if you do, you are probably also an academic, which also prefers this look. It is hard to be an individual. Also: bowties, vests, fedoras.

7. Possible expressions: sultry, contemplating the unknown, academic abstraction, hipster intensity, hipster disaffectation, lost, fearful, tenured, misty, long term smoker, cocktail in the afternoon, canoodled.

8. Rest your head on your hands. Rest your head on your arms. Being a poet is sleepy making. Anything that involves using an appendage to prop up your head, ala Glamour Shots in the 80s, is probably a good idea.

9. Read a book in your photo. You could read your own book. This makes it meta.

10. Long hair is favored for women. The longer, the better. In fact, the longer your hair, the more likely you are to be canonized. Let it drape over your secondary sex characteristics. You are a mermaid of poetry.


Contributing editor Rebecca Hazelton is the author of Fair Copy (Ohio State University Press, 2012), winner of the 2011 Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry, and Vow, from Cleveland State University Press. She was the 2010-11 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison Creative Writing Institute and winner of the “Discovery”/Boston Review 2012 Poetry Contest. Her poems have appeared in AGNI, The Southern Review, Boston Review, and Best New Poets 2011.