Work samples

  • samuel-cheney-monet-painting.jpg
    "On the Footage of Monet Painting" was awarded a 2021 Pushcart Prize, and appears in the annual Pushcart Prize anthology. It was originally published in Smartish Pace, Issue 26 (June 2019).
  • Who Shall Be Made Like Unto Grass.jpg
    Who Shall Be Made Like Unto Grass.jpg
    "Who Shall Be Made Like Unto Grass" appears in Western Humanities Review Issue 72.1 (Spring 2018), and was nominated for a 2019 Pushcart Prize.
  • Two Angels Ice Fishing.jpg
    Two Angels Ice Fishing.jpg
    "Two Angels Ice Fishing" will appear in the next issue of Salmagundi (Spring 2021).
  • Football Game copy.jpg
    Football Game copy.jpg
    "Football Game" appeared as The Missouri Review Poem of the Week, January 6, 2020.

About Samuel

Baltimore City
Samuel Cheney is a poet from Centerville, Utah. He is the winner of a 2021 Pushcart Prize. His poems appear in The American Journal of Poetry, Copper Nickel, The Literary Review, The Missouri Review, Salmagundi, and elsewhere. He has previously been awarded the 2018 Erskine J. Poetry Prize and scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the State of Utah. His work has been nominated for Best of the Net, multiple Pushcart Prizes, and his… more
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Believers is my first full-length poetry collection, still in-progress. Individual poems from Believers have been published in The American Journal of Poetry, Copper Nickel, Forklift, Ohio, The Literary Review, Meridian, The Missouri Review, Nashville Review, Narrative Magazine, North American Review, Plume, Salmagundi, Salt Hill, Smartish Pace, Western Humanities Review, and Whiskey Island. The poem “And Are We Yet Alive” was republished by The Literary Review on TLR Share. “On the Footage of Monet Painting” was republished in Pushcart Prize XLV: Best of the Small Presses (Bill Henderson, Kaveh Akbar, Stephen Corey, and Grace Schulman, eds. Pushcart Press, 2021).

Individual works that will appear in Believers have been awarded a 2021 Pushcart Prize, the 2018 Erskine J. Poetry Prize, have received critical features in Palette Poetry and Frontier Poetry, and have been nominated for the 2019 Best of the Net anthology and a 2019 Pushcart Prize.

Believers considers the role of art in remembering and monumentalizing diverse experience. At the same time, it attempts to recall and make monument to the local cultures and ways-of-life of my own upbringing in suburban and rural Utah’s devout Mormon community—a world rarely depicted in American art of any kind. As a kid looking to make sense of his world, I felt that absence keenly. While my work exhibits my obsessions with place, with faith, with mingled ideas of love and family and art, it looks back on my boyhood from the exile’s mixed perspective of critique and longing.

Believers is a book of poems that interrogates faith, love, and masculinity in the contemporary American West. One prominent thread through the book traces my own experience growing up as a member of a staunch Christian sect (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, popularly known as the Mormon church), and poems explore the histories of the Church and the state of Utah. A parallel thread investigates friendship, sex, art-making, and the myriad avenues through which we seek salvation. Poems about the Donner Party and the Mormon sacrament rituals juxtapose with ekphrastic meditations on sense experience and love poems set underneath the oil refineries of the Wasatch Front. At its core, the project serves as a memorial of the landscapes (both spiritual and physical) of my upbringing, and as an exploration of the complex tensions—and transcendence—found in different kinds of belief.
  • Believers: Individual Publications
    Believers: Individual Publications
    Poems from Believers have been selected for publication in numerous magazines, journals, and anthologies, including The American Journal of Poetry, Copper Nickel, The Literary Review, The Missouri Review, North American Review, and Salmagundi.
  • Believers: Poems Online
    A selection of poems from Believers can be read online at the journals linked to in this document. Eight published poems have been included.
  • Utah
    "Utah" is the first poem in Believers. It was originally published in North American Review, Vol. 305 No. 2-3 (Summer/Fall 2020).
  • Movie Review
    Movie Review
    "Movie review" was the first poem published from the Believers manuscript. It originally appeared in Whiskey Island, Issue 70 (August 2018).
  • On the Footage of Monet Painting (audio)
    An audio recording of "On the Footage of Monet Painting" from Believers.
  • Critical Coverage
    Poems from Believers have received critical commentary and praise. Some of this coverage is excerpted here.

Cowboy Songs

My manuscript Cowboy Songs was selected as a Semi-Finalist in the 2019 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. The competition was judged by the editors of Bull City Press and Eduaro C. Corral, author of Guillotine (Longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award for Poetry) and Slow Lightning (winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize).
  • Cowboy Songs
    Cowboy Songs
  • Night Drive After Rodeo
    "Night Drive After Rodeo" is the final poem in Cowboy Songs. It was originally published in Western Humanities Review, Issue 72.1 (Spring 2018).
  • Moon over the Wasatch Range
    Moon over the Wasatch Range
    "Moon over the Wasatch Range" was written as I was completing Cowboy Songs––it was the newest poem I included in the chapbook manuscript. The piece has been selected for publication and will appear in the next issue of Salmagundi (Spring 2021), alongside "Two Angels Ice Fishing."
  • Night Drive After Rodeo
    An audio recording of "Night Drive After Rodeo" from Cowboy Songs.

Smartish Pace

After my poetry was published in their pages, I was introduced to Stephen Reichert, founder and editor of the Baltimore-based international poetry journal Smartish Pace. I joined the staff and have worked as a member of the editorial team since November 2019. My work for the magazine includes soliciting pieces by established poets, seeking out work by writers from under-represented communities, reading and selecting submissions for publication, and copy-editing. We publish the journal annually each spring, and our upcoming issue will feature new work by Ishion Hutchinson, Michael Torres, William Logan, Wayne Miller, and many others. I also help run The HOT  L Poets Series, a monthly reading series presented by Smartish Pace and Baltimore Poets Theater. Readings are usually held on the second Sunday of the month at Bird in Hand in Charles Village, and feature two or three poets along with a community open mic.

Smartish Pace is a non-profit, independent literary journal based in Baltimore, Maryland. The magazine was founded in 1999 by Stephen Reichert who was a University of Maryland School of Law student at the time. We have published poems by the following Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winners: Terrance Hayes, Rae Armantrout, Mark Doty, Natasha Trethewey, Philip Schultz, Claudia Emerson, Nathaniel Mackey, Ted Kooser, Paul Muldoon, Yusef Komunyakaa, Carl Dennis, Stephen Dunn, Mary Oliver, Andrew Hudgins, Henry Taylor, Gerald Stern, Maxine Kumin, and Anthony Hecht. The magazine has also debuted previously unpublished letters of Elizabeth Bishop and award-winning new translations of Tomas Tranströmer.
  • Smartish Pace Issue 27
    Smartish Pace Issue 27
    Our most recent issue of Smartish Pace features work by Paul Muldoon, Heather McHugh, Dorianne Laux, Sandra Lim, Rodney Gomez, Anders Carlson-Wee, and many others. It was released in Spring 2020. Issue 28 will be published in April 2021.
  • The HOT L Poets Series
    The HOT L Poets Series
    A monthly reading series featuring local and nationally-renowned poets, the HOT L Poets Series is hosted by Smartish Pace and Baltimore Poets Theater. Past readers have included Rebecca Morgan Frank, Anna Maria Hong, Melvin E. Brown, Leslie Wheeler, Jalen Eutsey, Elizabeth Hazen, Anders Carlson-Wee, Will Schutt, Jane Satterfield, and Rachael Uwada Clifford.