poem index

July 23, 2013High Line, Summer Reading SeriesNew York, NYFrom the Academy Audio Archive

About this poet

Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee in 1965, Evie Shockley received her BA from Northwestern University. After studying Law at the University of Michigan, she earned her PhD in English from Duke University.

Shockley's first book, The Gorgon Goddess, was published by Carolina Wren Press in 2001. Since then she has published three books: a half-red sea (Carolina Wren Press, 2006), 31 words * prose poems (Belladonna* Books, 2007), and the new black (Wesleyan University Press, 2011), which received the 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Poetry.

Embracing both free verse and formal structures, Shockley straddles the divide between traditional and experimental poetics. A review of her work in Library Journal noted that, "Shockley’s work incorporates elements of myth without being patently 'mythical' and is personal without being self-indulgent, sentimental without being saccharine." Her reported influences include Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, and Harryette Mullen.

A Cave Canem graduate fellow, Shockley received the 2012 Holmes National Poetry Prize. She was awarded a residency at the Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers in 2003. Two of her poems were displayed in the Biko 30/30 exhibit, a commemoration of the life and work of anti-apartheid activist Steven Biko, which toured South Africa in 2007.

Shockley was coeditor of the poetry journal jubilat from 2004-2007, and teaches African American Literature and Creative Writing at Rutgers University-New Brunswick in New Jersey.

Improper(ty) Behavior

Evie Shockley

 

Click the icon above to listen to this audio poem.

Evie Shockley

Evie Shockley

Embracing both free verse and formal structures, Evie Shockley straddles the divide between traditional and experimental poetics

by this poet

poem
something is always burning, passion,
                        pride, envy, desire, the internal organs 
        going chokingly up in smoke, as some-
                thing outside the body exerts a pull
that drags us like a match across sand-
                        paper. something is always burning, 
        
poem

the screed seen here blesses
        the sweet, the meek, the gentle,
                the serene. let eyes ensembled
peep the news sheets: ere
        december descends, we'll elect
                the next pres, reps, etc. when
we welter, cede the wheel,
        we let greed-

poem
dear ink jet,


          black fast. greasy lightning.
won't smear. won't rub off.
          defense: a visual screen: ask
an octopus (bioaquadooloop).
          footprints faster than a speed-
ing bully, tracking dirt all
          over the page. make every
word count. one. two. iamb.
          octoroon. half-