Doug Van Gundy

Doug Van Gundy has been an elephant keeper, a copywriter, a country radio disc jockey, a letterpress operator, an old-time fiddler, and a TV game show winner. He received his MFA in poetry from Goddard College, and currently teaches creative writing and literature at West Virginia Wesleyan College. He has been a visiting writer at Barton College, Coastal Carolina University, Randolph College, and Marshall University, and does readings and leads workshops throughout the country.

His poems and essays have appeared in many journals, including the Oxford American, Ecotone, the Louisville Review, the Fretboard Journal, and Goldenseal. His work has also been featured on From the Fishouse: an audio archive of emerging poets.

In addition to being a writer, Doug plays fiddle, guitar, and mandolin in the old-time music duo Born Old, and performs regularly throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

Doug lives in Elkins, West Virginia.

All Books

A Life Above Water

Doug Van Gundy

Publication Date: March 1, 2007

$15.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-431-3


A Life Above Water is a cycle of poems that examines both the natural and human worlds and explores the boundaries between the two. The manuscript is concerned with personal ecologies and mythologies—the ways that things are interconnected and the stories that we create to explain those connections.

The manuscript is arranged in three concentric sections, each subsequent division nesting within the previous one. The reader is drawn into the broad, inclusive view of “All These Indigestible Parts” with its focus on the animals of the forest and birds of the air, the apparent cruelty of the natural world and that which is human about the animal—through “Fellowship and Baked Goods” which looks at peopled communities and the ways we interact with one another, to the tighter, more personal focus of “The Great Slowing” and its themes of loss, shortcoming and redemption.

The poems are individually free-standing and complete, but taken as a whole form a broad yet detailed portrait of the world around us and our place within it. By turns analytical, scientific, lyrical, whimsical and spiritual, A Life Above Water is a book that fits neatly into the canon of contemporary poetry while offering a unique, fresh and accessible perspective.