About this poet

Born in central Connecticut, Gabrielle Calvocoressi grew up in a family that owned movie theaters in several small towns across the state. She studied at Sarah Lawrence College and earned her MFA from Columbia University.

Calvocoressi's first book, The Last Time I saw Amelia Earhart (Persea Books, 2005), was shortlisted for the Northern California Book Award and won the 2006 Connecticut Book Award in Poetry. Her second collection, Apocalyptic Swing (Persea Books, 2009), was a finalist for the 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

A Booklist review for The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart notes: "There is something distinctly American not only in the rural towns she depicts and the voices she 'channels' but also in a brutally honest yet compassionately tender revelation of hidden truths. Calvocoressi has moved beyond the popular poetry of 'self' in an effort to understand other perspectives in this original and riveting collection."

Calvocoressi's awards and honors include a Stegner Fellowship, a Jones Lectureship at Stanford University and a Rona Jaffe Women Writers' Award. Her poem "Circus Fire, 1944" received The Paris Review's Bernard F. Connors Prize. She teaches at the MFA programs at California College of Arts in San Francisco and at Warren Wilson College. She also runs the sports desk for the Best American Poetry Blog.

Graves We Filled Before the Fire

Gabrielle Calvocoressi
Some lose children in lonelier ways:
tetanus, hard falls, stubborn fevers

that soak the bedclothes five nights running.
Our two boys went out to skate, broke

through the ice like battleships, came back
to us in canvas bags: curled

fossils held fast in ancient stone,
four hands reaching. Then two

sad beds wide enough for planting
wheat or summer-squash but filled

with boys, a barren crop. Our lives
stripped clean as oxen bones.

From The Helen Burns Poetry Anthology: New Voices from the Academy of American Poets University & College Prizes, Volume 9. Copyright © 2010 by Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

From The Helen Burns Poetry Anthology: New Voices from the Academy of American Poets University & College Prizes, Volume 9. Copyright © 2010 by Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Calvocoressi's awards and honors include a Stegner Fellowship, a Jones Lectureship at Stanford University and a Rona Jaffe Women Writers' Award

by this poet

poem
It's ridiculous what fame
can buy you. Not the beast
but the tiny, frightened
man who brings him
in a cage from Alhambra,
who stands in the doorway
as the three girls finish,
get off the bed and walk down 
to the pool, giggling as they pass.
The Bandleader borrowed
a tiger because we saw it 
in a reel the studio
poem

He's really beautiful. When he's standing in the trees like that and thinks nobody sees him. He's like a stag. Which sounds silly but he is. The way the light shines on him. The way it bounces off his hair like spray from the sprinkler. And he doesn't know it right then. Because he's looking somewhere else. Maybe

poem
It isn't how we look up close
so much as in dreams.

Our giant is not so tall,
our lizard boy merely flaunts

crusty skin- not his fault 
they keep him in a crate

and bathe him maybe once a week.
When folks scream or clutch their hair

and poke at us and glare and speak
of how we slithered up from Hell,

it is