About Bryan Dietrich



Bryan D. Dietrich is the author of a book-length study on comics, Wonder Woman Unbound, and six books of poems:  Krypton Nights, Universal Monsters, Prime Directive, Love Craft,  The Assumption, and The Monstrance.  He is also co-editor of Drawn to Marvel, the world’s first anthology of superhero poetry.

He has published poems in The New Yorker, The Nation, Poetry, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Paris Review, The Harvard Review, Yale Review, Shenandoah, Open City, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Witness, Weird Tales, and many other journals.  Having won The Paris Review Poetry Prize, a “Discovery”/The Nation Award, a Writers at Work Fellowship, the Isotope Editors’ Prize, an Asimov's Reader's Choice Award, a Rhysling Award, and the Eve of St. Agnes Prize, Bryan is a five-time finalist for the Yale Younger Poets Series and has been nominated multiple times for both the Pushcart and the Pulitzer.

He lives in Wichita, Kansas with his wife Gina and their son, Nick.  Professor of English at Newman University, Bryan grew up watching classic horror movies and dreaming of becoming a comic book artist.  He remains conflicted about choosing a tenure-track job over a chance to be an extra in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks, but is comforted by several facts:  the first person to be abducted in Aliens is named Dietrich, the composer for the original Mummy was named Dietrich, and the Kecksburg UFO incident occurred in December of 1965, just before Bryan was born.  Further inferences are welcome.






Edited by Bryan D. Dietrich and Marta Ferguson, “Drawn to Marvel” is an anthology covering five decades of poetry about comic books and includes work from over 100 writers of diverse backgrounds. It is the first and only poetry anthology of its kind, and pays homage to characters like The Avengers, The Justice League, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Swamp Thing, to name a few.  

 Notable contributors include Sherman Alexie, Lucille Clifton, Michael Martone, Rae Armantrout, Jason Mott, D. A. Powell, Jeannine Hall Gailey, Oscar McNary, Evan J. Peterson, and Michael Schmeltzer.    

 The writers delve deep into the lives of their heroes to offer playful character perspectives and bold reinterpretations of familiar stories. Sections of the book explore themes of heroes growing old, the sex lives of super humans, the woes of sidekicks, and the business of publishing comics, among others.   "Human Torch" by Tony Barnstone examines the title hero's desires and despair: "So let him burn./ Let him be licked by tongues, go up a bonfire/ of limbs...Let it all burn,/ the savings, the car, his love for one who's far/ from loving back... "   

 Ten years in the making "Drawn to Marvel" debuts in Seattle on March 1, 2014, when contributors will read selected works from the book.    The reading at Raygun Lounge is open to adults 21 and older, and cosplay is welcomed. Admission is free, and copies of the book will be available for sale.    Minor Arcana Press is a local nonprofit publishing house whose mission statement of "empower[ing] overlooked and outsider authors and artists through publication, publicity, and community."


You may order the anthology here:   http://www.minorarcanapress.com/




                                     The Monstrance 

The Monstrance, Bryan D. Dietrich’s sixth book of poems, is a love story. Set in the world of James Whale’s 1931 film version of Frankenstein, these poems document the lives and loves of a monster and a gypsy, a huffy hunchback, a lame priest, and the not-so-mad scientist himself. What begins with test tubes and Tesla coils ends in grace and graveyard picnics. Heartwarming and horrifying, love itself is resurrected here and set striding, a lost creature, livid and longing, but never alone.

You can find the book (print or e-book) on Amazon:  


Or through the publisher, Belfire Press:


“The Monstrance made me revisit everything I ever thought I knew about the legacy of Frankenstein, and Dietrich’s musings—remarkably—made it all even better. I dare say this book sparks the creature back to life in a fresh and novel way! And what a rewarding experience it is to read this book: each poem presents a cascading fountain of uncanny images and sublime encounters, raising potent questions about life and death with virtually every line. As is always the case with Dietrich’s work, the poetry here is built of well-forged language that’s been shaped and pounded perfect by the hammer of the master craftsman. This book is a foundry of the fantastic. And it’s exactly what I look for when I crack open a book of poetry: a serious, concentrated study that fearlessly goes places I never would have thought to go on my own, led by a writer I trust to encapsulate the experience in words and ways I never could. Bravo!”
—Michael Arnzen, author of Proverbs for Monsters

“In thirty-seven poems that embody a narrative, Bryan Dietrich creates a fascinating extrapolation from the Frankenstein mythos. Rich in detail, diverse and meditative, shot through with beauty, pain, and compassion, the language in this collection shines. With The Monstrance, Dietrich continues to emerge as one of the leading voices in contemporary dark poetry.”
—Bruce Boston, author of Dark Matters

“Come along on a cross country carnival trip in the gypsy’s van. Be an unseen party to a passionate affair with her lover-freak, for this is their story. In the passage, you may wonder who is the real monster. Who, or what? Dietrich leaves that to you. Sections outstanding are exquisitely framed to provide glimpses of life and death through the eyes of the Monster, his lover, his creator.
—Marge Simon, author of Vectors: A Week in the Death of a Planet

“Bryan D. Dietrich is a beast! Weaving between permutations of the Frankenstein tale and other iconic monsters from literature and film, The Monstrance manages to find the sublime in the souls of these creatures. Elevating these figures just enough out of pop culture to teach us something about our human condition, Dietrich creates a fresh take not only on our favorite monsters that we love to love, but also on the strangeness of life as we experience it. Dietrich is a ‘master mind.’”
—A. Van Jordan, author of Quantum Lyrics

“Bryan Dietrich’s The Monstrance is a sacred meditation on the making of monsters—those we see on screen and those inside ourselves. At the center of the book is Frankenstein’s Monster—everyman and, literally, every man, stitched together from the dead we must become—yet, in Dietrich’s hands, horror guides us to much more: a tale of thwarted family ties, a reflection on what’s human, and a love story that accommodates forgiveness and transcendence. The Monstrance resonates with its literary kin: Adam’s origin in Genesis, Beauty and the Beast, the Jewish legend of the golem, and, of course, the story of Christ. Near-mute and nameless, the Monster is once more resurrected—this time, by a poet of dazzling skill and vision. Bryan Dietrich’s newest book, wide-ranging and humane, offers the Monster’s most compelling recent incarnation.”
—Ned Balbo, author of The Trials of Edgar Poe and Other Poems



Like The X-Files or 2001: A Space Odyssey, Bryan D. Dietrich's book of poems The Assumption asks the question, "Are we alone?"  Drawing parallels between today's popular science fiction mythologies and far older theological narratives, Dietrich wonders what moves us, what takes us up.  Are there aliens?  Is there a God?  What's the difference?  Navigating a constellation of possible answers--from ancient astronauts to traditional teleology to the death of Deity--this collection of interconnected sonnets opts instead for the beauty of the ineffable, setting its sights on the first star to the right and racing straight on past mourning. 

The Assumption is available at http://www.wordfarm.net/ and at http://www.amazon.com/.

Prime Directive is about Star Trek. It’s about ten-year-olds and Talos IV, Kirk and Klingons, captains and colonels. It’s about a suddenly single Air Force father who introduces his son to a TV show, one that brings them both together, offers them both new life if not new civilization, preparing them both to go where neither has gone before. Prime Directive is a book about a man with Alzheimer’s who doesn’t have long before beaming out of this world, but it’s also about his son, father himself now, learning how to take the helm once his captain, his Colonel, is gone. 

Prime Directive is available at http://belfirepress.com/main/our-imprints/prime-directive-bryan-d-dietrich/%20and at http://www.amazon.com/.

Early reviews:

The Assumption

"I read The Assumption flat out, the way one reads the last pages of a thriller. This is the real stuff I've been thirsty for. Bryan Dietrich knows the sciences with easy and formidable familiarity, is aware of the complexities of history, of the great religious traditions, of the philosophers, as well as being fully au fait with popular culture. And this is not just knowledge, but the material of a passionate and inventive philosophy of his own."

Frederick Turner, author of Genesis

"Imagine the camera zooming in to the shoulder patch sewn to the uniform of a bridge commander, one of Star Trek's doughty interstellar voyagers . . . and it reads Sonnetmeister, First Class. That would be Bryan Dietrich we're looking at and, between galactic battles, time-travel jaunts, theological disputes, and pauses for open-mouthed wonder, he's writing this very book."

Albert Goldbarth, author of Budget Travel Through Space and Time

"I cannot find the appropriate words to praise Bryan Dietrich's The Assumption, so I'll just say do yourself a favor and read it."

David G. Hartwell, senior editor of Tor/Forge Books

Prime Directive

"A poem this long has to be broad and deep, and Prime Directive is both, examining fatherhood and son-hood and their avatars-creation and destruction-in many ways, but most powerfully through the astigmatic and revelatory American lens of Star Trek. It’s also a page-turner, a rare virtue in poetry.”

-- Joe Haldeman, author of The Forever War

“Bryan Dietrich is unique in the great expanse of the American poetry, as his work straddles a line seemingly no other poet has be able to walk. He revels in genre culture as a man who truly loves it, but he can also see through the eyes of an academic. As the result, he plays with genre tropes with a greater eye towards contemporary culture. Yet, he is also a skilled poet with an eye towards language. Simply put, he is the best poet science fiction, fantasy or horror has to offer. It is for this reason that I am extremely proud and happy I could help bring out his book length poem, Prime Directive.”

--Rich Ristow 


H. P. Lovecraft, dark god of the Gothic, taught us about the beasts under our beds, about the worlds behind our wallpaper, about the secret stains in all our haunted homes.  Bryan D. Dietrich’s new volume of poems dusts beneath those same beds, tears at the same wallpaper, and runs screaming into the history of those same houses.  Dietrich’s poems, like Lovecraft’s stories, show us the fathers and mothers of our terror, but they also ask:  Is there something in their tortured tales we can craft at last into love?

Love Craft is on sale now through Finishing Line Press.   Please go to www.finishinglinepress.com and click on “New Releases and Forthcoming Titles.”

The New Book Monster


“Bryan Dietrich’s poems are lambent, insinuating, delicately threatening.  His control of language is fine and measured, the danger, loss and desire subtly intertwined, the stuff of relished nightmare.  This is a sensitive book, testimony to the enormity of the ongoing loss of his father, imaged in the pulp scifi, horror, comic book, film images they shared.  Domestic horror merges with details of damage—only Bryan would rhyme ‘shudder, larder, murder.’  As he says:  ‘Open the book, brace yourself, say the spell.’”

—Gina Wisker, Brighton, UK, author of Horror Fiction, editor of Dissections 

“Demonstrating a mastery of style, a deep sense of literary roots, and a marvelous grasp of Lovecraftian imagery, Bryan Dietrich may well be the top practitioner of horror poetry writing today.”

—Lawrence C. Connolly, author of Veins 

This brilliant and powerful book steers the reader to both the subject of these poems, the craft of love, a craft largely unknown to the inhabitants of these poems, and to the symbolic world of creeping horror found in the work of H. P. Lovecraft.  The framework of universal horror provided by the Lovecraft cosmos gives the whole more depth and a larger perspective that extends the suffering to all of us.”

—David Lunde



Cover Art - Psycho Girlfriend by Steven Stahlberg

Universal Monsters is much more personal than his first, the award-winning Krypton Nights. From boudoir to abattoir, from desire to dissolution to divorce, from The Bride of Frankenstein to Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman, this is a book that engages monsters, yes, but also the everyday human traumas that rend.

Universal Monsters is published by Word Press and is still available.  Please go to:

amazon.com or http://www.word-press.com/.

NOTE: A few copies of Krypton Nights are still available through Eighth Day Books in Wichita, Kansas: http://www.eighthdaybooks.com/.

Bryan, the Buffy fan


 “No one writing today is as adept at twining popular and high cultures, or as skilled at shifting—mid-line—from colloquial to grand style. With characteristic wit, humor, and astonishing craft, Bryan Dietrich has provided yet another volume in which what is human becomes all the more visible via fantastic avatar.”

—Scott Cairns, author of Recovered Body   

“In this most serious and compelling monster book, Dietrich uses films and legends—from Frankenstein to It Came from Outer Space, from the Yeti to Sasquach, from Loch Ness to Skull Island—to show us that the monster is primarily a metaphor for what Faulkner called “the human heart in conflict with itself.” Cursed and blessed with its sense of alienation and desire, it longs simultaneously for the hearth and for the outlands, for the pure and for the perverse, for life and for oblivion. Thus the heart also becomes its own haunted house, as can its correlate, the family. ‘Too bad real life doesn’t come with danger music,’ the speaker in ‘B Movie’ observes. But the hauntings here are real, and the danger music bone-deep and beautiful.”

—William Trowbridge, author of the Complete Book of Kong

“Bryan Dietrich’s astonishing new collection Universal Monsters clearly establishes him as one of the most imaginatively resourceful and mercurial young poets writing today, a voice capable of dressing down the extremities of horror, of rendering it more approachable, intimate, funny at times, and yet for all its ironies something to own, embodying a whole range of feeling characteristically denied the gothic. And what a monstrous universe he inhabits. Everywhere we look in these poems, we see a voracious intelligence, replete, curious, quick, generous with its attentions, yet boldly reinventing the traditions it honors, sustaining its engagements with a lust for the sumptuous phrase, formal pleasure, and unlikely detail, unnerving, perhaps, but likewise charged with a certain reverie. This reverie is the other face of generosity. Here the play of the mind is so alive, the book’s dark has a kind of shine.”

— Bruce Bond, author of The Throats of Narcissus

“The craft of Bryan Dietrich’s Universal Monsters is impeccable—dense, elegant lines polished free of any excess. Yet the sensibility shaping those lines owes more to Ed Wood than Wordsworth. Though its tropes come from B-movies and other escapist fictions, Universal Monsters isn’t about getting out, it’s about getting in. Into the intimacies of family and identity, into the mysteries that baffle us and defy explanation, into the endless wonder of physical existence. Universal Monsters is not for the faint of heart.”

—Marta Ferguson, former poetry editor for The Missouri Review

“There’s a remarkable scene in the classic Frankenstein film, where Karloff’s creature gently hands a little girl a flower. This book is like that flower: a gift that reminds us of the humanity of monstrosity (as well as the universal monstrosity of humanity). Dietrich is a virtuoso of shape and structure, plumbing the profound depths of this metaphor. I can think of no other writer who bridges lyrical forms with genre material so artfully, wringing significance out of the neck of every word. Universal Monsters is an amazing accomplishment.”

—Mike Arnzen, winner of the Bram Stoker Award

I also like aliens (Clay sculpture by the author)


“Bryan Dietrich’s Krypton Nights, a book-length suite of poems...won The Paris Review’s poetry prize in 2001, with no less an arbiter than Richard Howard calling it ‘a remarkable conribution to American Literature.’”


Krypton Nights is a surprising pleasure, full of verbal high jinks, wit, depth and flamboyance.”

The Chicago Tribune

“Like the four-color revolution of Frank Miller or the randy speculations of Larry Niven on the same subject, Dietrich’s poems prove that pop mythology flows surprisingly deep.”

Asimov’s Science Fiction

“Dietrich...brings gracefully together the high culture of myth and the low culture of the adolescent comic book world, proving the two aren’t so far apart…. The book’s last poem...is at once a tour-de-force of poetry and scriptural exegesis.”

The Missouri Review

“In the end, the S, which according to Clark was not even a letter originally, becomes a variable cryptogram, not only for Superman, but for all the myths, social, political, and religious, that are built on the concept of the super being—from Nazi to savior.... Like the best prose science fiction, this book examines the paradoxes that haunt the human race, and opens doors to greater mysteries.”

New York Review of Science Fiction

“In Krypton Nights, Bryan D. Dietrich doesn’t merely allude to popular culture; he wears it like a mask, and he uses this assumed identity to plunge into deeper meditations on what is mythic and what is religious.... Amazingly, Dietrich achieves this while staying 100% true to voices he borrows. Krypton Nights suggests a life time of reading and learning.”

Main Street Rag

“What Dietrich does with [Jor-El and Lex Luthor] is glittering and grievous and altogether unnerving: the authority of their monologues is absolute.... Krypton Nights is precisely one-half majesty.”

The Constant Critic

“Bryan Dietrich’s dazzling Krypton Nights…uses rhyme and rhythm to tell us more about Superman and Lois Lane and Lex Luthor than Smallville ever will.”

The Independent

“...Dietrich examines Superman from a variety of perspectives, leaving the reader with a clearer vision of who Superman isn’t and his differences from us and Christ.”

Small Press Review

“One rarely finds a collection by any but the most famous poets that does not hold fast to some organizing conceit…. I think of Glück’s The Wild Iris, Hummer’s Walt Whitman in Hell, Dietrich’s Krypton Nights as three stirring examples.”

Small Press Review

“Against the backdrop of the heroic writ large, Dietrich counterpoints the all too common stuff of our human frailty and failure to successfully negotiate the personal and fashion a reasonable compromise with reality. Dietrich reminds us that great poems are ultimately great arguments with ourselves.”

Society of the Muse of the Southwest

“Frequently blasphemous and always thought provoking, Krypton Nights is the kind of book Superman deserved to have written about him; it definitively elevates his fictional status to one of a much greater (and as of yet unexplored) importance.”


“And I don’t want to forget to mention Krypton Nights, a superb and very moving collection of poems about Superman and Lois and Lex (and Jor-el) written by Bryan D. Dietrich.… The courage, sympathy and wit Dietrich displayed in imagining fresh (but legitimate) personas for the whole Superman cast inspired me to take some risks myself with those (daunting) characters.”

—Tom DeHaven, author of It’s Superman

"Psycho Girlfriend" Cover art provided by Steven Stahlberg.