It was a poem titled “Coniferous Fathers” that first grabbed me. After the first few stanzas, I paused to collect myself and control my emotions. By the end, even that proved impossible. 

“Coniferous Fathers” is my favorite entry among many beautiful and brilliant poems in Worldly Things, the first collection of works by Michael Kleber-Diggs, released in 2021. After reading it, I knew I had to track down Michael for a potential interview here on The Resistance. What I didn’t realize then was just how substantive that conversation would be, how moved I would be by the person even more than his work.

To properly introduce him, Michael Kleber-Diggs is a poet, essayist, teacher, and literary critic. He won the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize in 2021 for Worldly Things. Among other places, Kleber-Diggs’ writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Poem-a-Day, Poetry Daily, Poetry Northwest, Potomac Review, Hunger Mountain, and Memorious, and he’s currently writing a memoir about his complicated history with lap swimming called My Weight in Water (forthcoming with Spiegel & Grau). Since 2016, Michael has been an instructor with the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. He also teaches Creative Writing in Augsburg University’s low-res MFA program.

In spite of such credentials, Michael admits in our conversation that he struggles to believe his voice matters. Sound familiar? Does the world really need what I have to say? That’s a question so many of us ask. For Michael, even with the growing list of accolades, some of those familiar haunting voices never fade. And as someone who got a late start in the craft, he’s trying to push back against the resistance to make up for lost time.

VISIT: Michael Kleber-Diggs

*Photo: Ayanna Muata