My maternal grandmother told stories of her life as a girl and woman, and I remember being as young as twelve years old racing to grab a pen and paper so that I could write down the things she said. I believe that her storytelling has been the catalyst for my love of writing and telling my own stories through poetry. American Lullaby is a family narrative. My own family, specifically the struggles endured by my grandmother and mother, has been the inspiration for many of these poems. Narrative poetry has been my obsession since my introduction to poetry under the teaching of Colorado poet Lisa Zimmerman. In her class I was exposed to the work of Sharon Olds, Dorianne Laux, and Anne Sexton, to name only a few. The tragedy, the heartbreak, the raw material from which they drew to make poems was initially what piqued my interest. Upon further study, I found that the music, line breaks, imagery, the language as a whole was what made these stories poems—poems that would literally make me pause to catch my breath. I wanted to write poems like these. My poetry teacher Lisa Zimmerman encouraged me to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing and with her guidance and support of my writing, I came to San Diego State University to do just that. As I began my time as an MFA student at SDSU, I continued to write about my family. The grandmother poems emerged and then came poems about my mother—a single mother from the time I was five years old, when she and my father were divorced. My memories of this childhood with a single mother and a remarried father continuously cropped up in my poems, and I have noticed that my challenge in writing these personal, sad stories has been to somehow remove myself for a moment and to let the language do the work. I have had to do this to avoid over-sentimentality, while still staying true to the emotions I felt or other family members may have felt. Another personal struggle included in this collection is that of addiction and alcoholism that affected both my brother and me. The brother poems, and the poems about my own alcoholism, were perhaps the most difficult to write; yet, they are the poems with which I am most obsessed. I could not stop writing about these struggles and at one point felt as though the subject matter was getting old and that I should try to steer clear. However, I was given a piece of advice from Ilya Kaminsky that I will not soon forget?that is to write about our obsessions and to never apologize for doing so. I have found that this is one of the many wonderful jobs of the poet. Our obsessions become our poetry, and our poetry is our gift to the world. Finally come the poems that are dear to me in so many ways, and these are the poems I have written about my unplanned pregnancy. This pregnancy came at a time in my life where I began to struggle again with alcoholism, and quite honestly, I am not sure I would have survived without God giving me a son. It was a time of immense joy because I was literally saved, but it was also a time of extreme loneliness and heartache because of the nature of the relationship I had with the father of my baby. Under the advice and guidance of Sandra Alcosser, I began a journey committed to writing poems solely about my pregnancy. In many ways these poems tell a story of heartbreak, loneliness, and fear, but the underlying story is the hope of new life for a woman who seeks to overcome the tragedy that has plagued generations of women in her family.