How did you decide to write Dogs of Brooklyn?

I had written one poetry collection in undergrad at FSU and my first few years out of school living in New York. I published a few of the poems in literary magazines, but didn’t have much luck with a chapbook getting published. I then wrote a terrible spy novel and got an MFA. I think I was just teaching myself how to write but was disappointed when the novel also didn’t get published. I played in bands for a few years too, that went nowhere really. I was in a pretty hopeless place when I had a great conversation with my undergrad poetry professors, David Kirby and Barbara Hamby. They encouraged me to write about the dogs and my life in Brooklyn. Before that it really hadn’t occurred to me. So basically, a lot of failure led up to it. I figured even if this book went nowhere I would have honored the animals that I spent my days with and made their owners happy.

Troubador turned beggar, a dapper king growling from your jeweled
throne as I enter your home. You turn your whiskered nose up
until I offer mice bites of cheese from the icebox.

You take them carefully from my fingertips with your tiny teeth,
then to show your love of all creatures great and small, you hump
your giraffe. Our pilgrimage begins, we step out amidst

the Poor Clares, you sniff gingerly. Slip and click, claws scrape
hallway linoleum as you scuttle from doormat to doormat. Sit
your silent protest of passive resistance at top of stairs—

it worked for Ghandi and Martin Luther King but you’re just ten
tough pounds of hair and teeth, a bat without wings, this city’s
great rat terrier, terrorist king. Jacob’s not the only one