Today's poem is "Equinox"
from The Blue Black Wet of Wood

Two Sylvias Press

Carmen R. Gillespie is a professor of English and founder and director of the Griot Institute for Africana Studies at Bucknell University. In addition to many individual article and poem publications, she is the author of the scholarly works, A Critical Companion to Toni Morrison, A Critical Companion to Alice Walker, and the editor of Toni Morrison: Forty Years in the Clearing, as well as a poetry chapbook, Lining the Rails, and two poetry collections, Jonestown: A Vexation, winner of the 2011 Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Prize and The Blue Black Wet of Wood, winner of Two Sylvia's Wilder Series Poetry Prize. The titular poem of the latter collection was selected by Motionpoems for development by Sundance award-winning director, Malik Vitthal, for production as a film short, which will premiere in Minneapolis in November of 2016. Carmen's awards include an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship for Excellence in Poetry and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and a Fulbright scholar. Essence magazine named Carmen one of its 40 favorite poets in commemoration of the magazine's 40th anniversary. Carmen's most-recent manuscript, The Ghosts of Monticello: A Recitative, recently selected as a finalist in the 2016 Cleveland State Open Book Poetry Prize, is a long-list candidate for the 2016 Stillhouse Press Poetry Contest.

Books by Carmen R. Gillespie:

About The Blue Black Wet of Wood:

"Unflinching in its exquisite poignancy, concentric as a Russian nesting doll, Carmen Gillespie's The Blue Black Wet of Wood, chronicles the myriad losses within the greater loss of her husband. Dazzlingly intelligent in its circling back through her life, and the life of her family, Blue Black explores the refocusing of the world through the shattered lens of grief and recollection, elegance and hardship. Gillespie's mastery of craft—evident in her blending of forms, both traditional and experimental—serves as the alchemy that transmutes her loss into brilliant lyric intensity."
—Indigo Moor

"Drawing on myths ranging from Mayan prophecy ('If there was warning, I didn't see it') and Buddhist thought ('This will also change') to Ovidian metamorphoses, Greek and Shakespearean tragedy (Orpheus and Eurydice, Pandora, The Tempest), and the 'fall' of Adam and Eve from Paradise, the speaker in Carmen Gillespie's The Blue Black Wet of Wood finds herself, in the middle-passage of her life's journey, in a dark wood: the welter of a husband's unexpected, advanced cancer diagnosis, his precipitous death, and the profound aftermath of that lost love, the wages of which are an almost unfathomably deep, blue-note grief. Wet wood cannot be lit; it smolders. With forthright honesty ('Voices from the hall, / 'Who's that black woman with him?'/ 'I think it's his wife'') and tender humor ('Today in the pile, / your gray sock. No madeleine, / but it will suffice'), Gillespie bravely makes her way through the ash and smolder, right to the liminal edge between shock and bereavement, land and sea, wet wood and fire, personal loss and history, to where 'the sea seeps through / in waves that remember the determined descent / of drowning slaves' and one can 'learn now to love, yes, love, / the letting go.'"
—Lisa Russ Spaar

"There is a way these beautifully made poems—sonorous, precise—make us forget the profound sorrow which engines them along. That's not quite right. They make us understand—they model for us—how loss might be made into music. That is hard work. And these poems do that hard work beautifully."
—Ross Gay

"The arc of Gillespie's collection traces elegies for the beloved. The poems are haunted by images of birds and sky at various times of day, of seas and lakes, of the landscape in every season but especially of the fall and especially October. Gillespie's artful rendering of loss takes root and deepens. Through the poems' syntax, formal measures, sparseness, and restraint, language itself enacts the way death unmoors us. At the centre of this deeply moving collection is the 'simple story' the book re-inhabits. After the loss of the beloved, we are formed out of and from the fact of their absence—'I am. / The space is. / The cracks are.'"
—Shara McCallum

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