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Sherod Santos

1948–

Poet and essayist Sherod Santos was born on September 9, 1948 in Greenville, South Carolina.

He is the author of numerous books of poetry, including Square Inch Hours (W. W. Norton, 2017), which was long-listed for the Naitonal Book Award; The Intricated Soul: New and Selected Poems (W. W. Norton & Co., 2010); The Perishing (2003); The Pilot Star Elegies (1999), which won a Theodore Roethke Poetry Prize and was both a National Book Award Finalist and one of five nominees for The New Yorker Book Award; The City of Women (1993); The Southern Reaches (1989); and Accidental Weather (1982), which was selected for the National Poetry Series.

In 2000, the University of Georgia Press published A Poetry of Two Minds, a collection of his essays.

His awards include the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award, the "Discovery"/The Nation Award, the Oscar Blumenthal Prize from Poetry magazine, a Pushcart Prize in both poetry and the essay, and the 1984 appointment as Robert Frost Poet at the Frost house in Franconia, New Hampshire. He has also received fellowships from the Ingram Merrill and Guggenheim foundations, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

From 1990 to 1997, Santos served as external examiner and poet-in-residence at the Poets' House in Portmuck, Northern Ireland, and in 1999 he received an Award for Literary Excellence from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is a professor of English at the University of Missouri, Columbia.

Sherod Santos
Photo credit: Alan Kennedy

By This Poet

2

A Woman Named Thucydides

Having slept in a turnout in the backseat
of her car, she awoke before dawn, shivering,
hungover, unsure of where she was. 
To her surprise, the sodium lights on the billboard 
she had parked beside were no longer on. 
Wind gusts, the smell of rain, the raw, unbroken 
landscape like a field of ice. If this had been a movie,
someone would've been sitting up front, 
someone who held her fate in his hands.
Though she couldn't see them, she could hear 
birds passing overhead. Why do they even bother
to cross so vast and empty a space? 
At the moment, none of the usual explanations 
made sense. Her head ached, her feet were cold, 
she couldn't find the words. And the man up front,
what did he think? What would he do?
Must something still happen before the end?

A Feeling of AND, a Feeling of OR

The window in mid-summer raised, and where 
the screen intersects with the frame, a web of circular 
tensile silks radiating outward from the central lair 
where a yellow spiny-backed spider waits, its six 
thorn spurs protruding rose-like from its abdomen, 
its casing imprinted with a wax seal ring. Attached 
to the foundation lines, clusters of white cottony tufts, 
lures, I suppose, for insects, and suspended 
from a single thread, a much smaller egg-shaped 
spider (the male?) swaying imperceptibly in the air: 
an image from childhood that reminds me of "childhood," 
a word that so often crosses my mind that it long ago 
ceased to mean anything other than a period of time 
when things occurred not to me so much as him, 
and all of them linked only by AND. As in the span 
of a single moment, the afternoon after the all-clear 
when the sun rose on a bloated, fly-stung pygmy goat 
in a gravel slough he crossed to wave to a woman 
with a Red Cross band on her arm. AND: the red 
pinball bumper cap ("5000 when lit") in a tented 
arcade on Brighton Pier when he was twelve.

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