winner of the Cowles Poetry Prize

Southeast Missouri State University Press 

What You Missed That You Were Absent from Fourth Grade

Thanks to SEMO Press,

who has  sold & shipped

1,000 copies directly to readers.

a poem from the book

What You Missed that Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade

Mrs. Nelson explained how to stand still and listen

to the wind, how to find meaning in pumping gas,


how peeling potatoes can be a form of prayer. She took

questions on how not to feel lost in the dark.


After lunch she distributed worksheets

that covered ways to remember your grandfather’s


voice. Then the class discussed falling asleep

without feeling you had forgotten to do something else—


something important—and how to believe

the house you wake in is your home. This prompted


Mrs. Nelson to draw a chalkboard diagram detailing

how to chant the Psalms during cigarette breaks,


and how not to squirm for sound when your own thoughts

are all you hear; also, that you have enough.


The English lesson was that I am

is a complete sentence.


And just before the afternoon bell, she made the math equation look easy. The one that proves that hundreds of questions,


and feeling cold, and all those nights spent looking

for whatever it was you lost, and one person


add up to something.

Screen Shot 2020-01-27 at 7.38.31 PM.png

On Being Studios (makers of the public radio show/podcast On Being with Krista Tippett) creates the podcast Poetry Unbound. If aren't listening, you'll want to. Each episode features one poem and a reflection from host Pádraig Ó Tuama. 

                      The first episode is about "What You Missed..."

Click to hear or subscribe

What people are saying about the book

"In prose and in verse, the poems here, much like the book’s title, have two names: holy and brilliant.” —Gary McDowell

"For anyone burdened by the weight of modernity, forget the chicken soup; pick up Brad Modlin’s wonderful book of poems." —George Hovis

"...a poet who is as interesting as he is unpredictable.” —J. Allyn Rosser

"To read this book is to recoil with recognition, and then to shoot forward with the courage it provides

via humor and the unexpected warmth of shared plight.” —Larissa Szporluk

"When you finish this book, you’ll most likely want to thank him.” —Fred Marchant

The Short Collection of Short Stories

and winner of The Cupboard's annual contest

Surviving in Drought

"With elements of Donald Barthelme's intelligent absurdity and Stanley Crawford's surreal intimacies, Surviving in Drought is an elegant investigation of the secret language hidden within domesticity.  In these stunning pages, order topples over to reveal deep strangeness, precision gives way to aporia, and the end of the world comes with more tenderness than anyone might expect. An unusual and striking book that you will devour whole."       


—Alexandra Kleeman, contest judge

"In Surviving the Drought, Brad Aaron Modlin capsizes our kitchens with floods, our aprons with stars, shaking up every expectation of our modern lives with the unexpected and surreal. Through humor and striking prose, Modlin offers readers a refreshingly disorienting view of the world. I loved every word of this dense, gorgeous collection."

          —Anne Valente, author of Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down

"Brad Aaron Modlin is a magician of fiction. Every sentence in Surviving in Drought flings a new flash of wonder. He transforms domestic mundanity into surreal miracles, impossibly won. The happy family life modeled from sitcoms is flipped, submerged, cast in a sea of glittering bubbles. But Modlin’s drowning world isn’t only doom and apocalypse. There is indeed survival and perhaps rebirth, as he reacquaints us with a world we’ve always known for the lie it is and the truth it can become. This gorgeously ornate collection of stories offers hope after the world is drowned. Modlin promises us humor, awe, kindness, and so much love lost and gained. This collection will teach you how to breathe underwater."                                                              

—Dustin M. Hoffman, author of One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist

Selected Publications

—Sycamore Review, Purdue




“Lazarus Is Having Trouble Readjusting”

“Cubism” Indiana Review, Indiana University

“At the Time I Believed in the Power of the Past Tense”

—Joys of the Table: An Anthology of Culinary Verse

Links to Online Publications

“All of It"

—Superstition Review, Arizona State

—Zócalo Public Square


from Everyone at this Party Has Two Names

Poetry International, Online




“A Game of Owaré”  —Fourth Genre, Michigan State University
—StoryQuarterly, Rutgers University

“The Day of a Death, the First Thing that Changes
  Is What You Want from Strangers”

River Teeth, Ashland University

“Maybe the Anemic Light” 

—The Florida Review, U of Central Florida

The Summer of the Commune, and Some of the Summers

  Before That 

        —Welcome to the Neighborhood: An Anthology of American Coexistence


Links to Online Publications


Proximity Magazine


River Teeth's Beautiful Things


Heavy Feather Review

carte blanche

(Quebec Writers’ Federation)

A video reading of the essay "Thomas"

Possibility Films, Inc

from Surviving in Drought


“Unicursal" —Denver Quarterly, University of Denver


“Oslo, Omaha” —Hawai'i Review, University of Hawai'i



ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment,
Oxford University Press

“Dark Gray Door"

Originally published in Indiana Review, Indiana University

Links to Online Publications

SmokeLong Quarterly