Although Brendan has graduated from the Illinois Math and Science Academy, Knox College, and Vermont College of Fine Arts, his real education began at home, in Raymond, Illinois. There, his mom and dad read, memorized, and recited the Dr. Seuss canon. It was also there that his dad, during their regular Magna Doodle math sessions, first introduced him to the idea of negative numbers (4-6=whoa, wait a second). That totally, uh, blew his six-year-old mind. He’s been writing (and trying to figure out just what it means to be a negative number) ever since.
These dual interests in writing and math/science were cultivated through his youth. At 15, he left Raymond to attend the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. The future looked so bright: he was sure he’d become a particle physicist and work at nearby Fermilab, contributing to breakthrough discovery after breakthrough discovery. But after eight weeks or so at IMSA, he was told he had the worst algebra his instructor had ever seen. The worst. Absolutely, unequivocally. At that point, he decided he would take a class in poetry. He did. He loved it. Thank goodness for bad algebra.
At Knox College he took his first poetry writing class, because, well, that’s what you do in college to pick up girls, right? The girls didn’t come, but the poems did. Sort of. Bad poems. Maybe not as bad as the algebra, but bad. He read. He wrote. He didn’t graduate on time.
He moved in with his girlfriend, who loved him despite the badness of his poems and algebra. He worked many jobs. He threw luggage into planes at O’Hare international airport. (Like, literally, threw.) He worked at a bank. A grocery store. He and the girlfriend got married. They moved. He coached soccer. His coaching, it turns out, was worse than his algebra. He survived. He served tables at Olive Garden. He attended Vermont College of Fine Arts where he wrote more bad poems, met good friends, read good poems, and began, maybe, writing slightly better himself.
Now he lives in Sioux City, Iowa, with his lovely wife and their dog in a house on the north side of town. He reads physics books, referees soccer, and teaches Composition at Western Iowa Tech. He’s not lonely but he’d like to hear from you.
btodt8 / @ / gmail / . / com