Poets

Search more than 3,000 biographies of contemporary and classic poets.

Cheryl Clarke

1947–

Cheryl Clarke was born in 1947 in Washington, DC. She received a B.A. from Howard University and an M.A., M.S.W., and Ph.D. from Rutgers University. Her books of poetry include By My Precise Haircut (The Word Works Press, 2016); Experimental Love (Firebrand Books, 1993), which was nominated for a 1994 Lambda Literary Award; Humid Pitch (1989); Living as a Lesbian (1986); and Narratives: Poems in the Tradition of Black Women (1983). Her poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including The Black Scholar, The Kenyon Review, Belles Lettres, The World in Us: An Anthology of Lesbian and Gay Poetry, and Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader (1992). She has read her poetry and spoken at venues throughout the United States and served as member of the editorial collective for Conditions magazine. Clarke is the Director of the Office of Diverse Community Affairs and Lesbian-Gay Concerns at Rutgers University, and she is the co-organizer of the Hobart Festival of Women Writers held annually in Hobart, New York, where she lives.

By This Poet

1

Brief Interval

I knew what I was about
stroking your lovely
neck in the perilously
brief
interval at the intersection of
desire, the real, and feminist
derring-do.

And if the intersection is three
or four points of variance,
divergence, diversion,
aversion, and hapless brief
interval
larger than the grid,
in dread of a walled corner,
a piano stool, a
contraband .38,
and that flip of an
eye eros,
oh, throat

I don’t do well with
expectation. Come up
here if it’s too cool a
story below with your
windows cracked.
Higher is warmer
in this last,
fast
phantasmic
interval.