2022 Ohio Poet of the Year, Erica Manto Paulson is a graduate from Bowling Green State University and holds a degree in Creative Writing and English Literature. A 2021 Pushcart Nominee, Erica’s poems have appeared in Thimble Literary Magazine, Sheila Na Gig, the Northern Appalachia Review, Slippery Elm, and elsewhere. Her work has also been featured on NPR's "Conrad’s Corner" (WYSO). Erica’s first chapbook, Hunger, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2021 and awarded her the title of Ohio Poet of the Year.
On Ohio native, Erica is a doula, hypno-birthing educator, and midwife assistant, all of which drives her ongoing obsession with birth in its many forms. She finds inspiration for her poetry in the fertile fields of her home state, drawing on a deep connection to the surrounding world. Erica and her husband Scott live in Washington Township with their seven children and own a prenatal ultrasound spa in Hyde Park, Cincinnati.
There is abundance in Erica Manto Paulson’s premiere poetry collection, Hunger. An abundance of image, of story, of knowledge, of the brimming silence which “all things holy” know is “the only way to get through.” At its wise heart, Hunger is a reflection on motherhood, in both its most intimate and communal forms. “Who feeds them?” asks a young daughter about children pulled from their mothers’ breasts at this country’s border. These poems know the reciprocity of nourishment given and received. And in this exchange, “we are opened, / we close / the world expands again.
— Pauletta Hansel, Cincinnati Poet Laureate Emeritus, Hamilton County Library Writer in Residence, editor for Pine, Mountain, Sand, and Gravel
This is a book about the hunger for love with which we come into the world, and its imagery takes us on a journey to the deepest reaches of our affection for one another. The poet gives birth to a daughter and dreams “they rummaged / through every drawer of my body / to find her.” She remembers how proud her son was when he discovered her nose ring as he suckled, “looking up as if to let me know / it was there.” She teaches her children the noun bird for “your red heart / flitting in front of you / on the branches.” It may be, as Louise Glück has written, that we see the world only once, in childhood, but the poems of Erica Manto Paulson come about as close as language can take us to a second look.
— David Lee Garrison, author of Light in the River (2020) Dos Madres Press
In Hunger, Erica Manto Paulson celebrates a keen appetite for life and love. A mother delights in her own ability to cure with abundant breast milk, a young girl almost smothers her new baby sister with excess kisses, a daughter adds mythic memory to her C-section birth story, and a son marks his growing independence with a vampire cartoon that says “I love you more than all the flowers.” These poems yearn in their sweet balance of story, song, and imagination, inviting the reader to “open your mouth wide and it will be filled with good things.” This poet’s debut chapbook teaches us to name love, need, and loss for each other. You will be hungry for more.
— Roberta Schultz, author of Touchstones (2020) Finishing Line Press