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Sophie Cabot Black

Sophie Cabot Black was born in New York City in 1958 and grew up on a small farm in Connecticut. She received a BA from Marlboro College in 1980 and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University in 1984.

She is the author of The Exchange (Graywolf Press, 2013); The Descent (Graywolf Press, 2004), winner of the Connecticut Book Award; and The Misunderstanding of Nature (Graywolf Press, 1994), winner of the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award. The Boston Review notes, “Black’s taut, resonant lyrics are chastened of all excess verbiage and reveal a poet of keen assurance and consummate craft, but perhaps what most amazes the reader is that such honed writing can speak with such emotional immediacy.”

In an interview for the New Yorker, Black says, “For me, the act of writing comes out of query. Each image turns to the next with its question and gets answered. Or with its answer it gets questioned. Poetry is my way to understand what is difficult. How one thing can be explained through another—is to get closer, to unhide what feels hidden.”

The recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Bunting Institute, Black has taught at the New School, Rutgers, and Columbia University. She divides her time between New York City and Wilton, Connecticut.


Selected Bibliography

The Exchange (Graywolf Press, 2013)
The Descent (Graywolf Press, 2004
The Misunderstanding of Nature (Graywolf Press, 1994)

By This Poet

5

Not

that you are unloved
but that you love
and must decide which

to remember; tracks left
in the field, a language
of going away or coming back—

and to look up
from the single mind,
to let untangle

the far-off snow
from sky
until no longer

held as proof
is also where birds
find agreement

strung along branches
each with their own song
for the other,

every note used
to sing anyway—
how to hold the already

as the not yet

Love Poem

Which cannot be written tries anyway—
From one room to another, each time startled
And does not want to hear of the already

Passed through, the country of before.
Poem that at each door believes itself
In the room closest to the end

Where finally everything will be gone over,
Dismantled, held up, carefully laid back down
While talked into the beauty which can turn

In a minute. To hear of every other
Poem written is to begin
Revision and what cannot be left enough

Alone and so the lovers look at each other
Until none else can come near. Poem
Which never wanted anything but this

Tries anyway, so brave, unable to know where
She heads; unwrapping until only a gift
Which cannot be given as it cannot be let go.

Private Equity

To put one and one together making
Two and so on. A house appears, room
With a bed in it. To configure anyway,

Even without enough information.
We work into it, the chosen. To measure
Everything out until the one who takes over

Becomes taken. This as strategy, the art
Of how we build until management
In turn builds us, elegant the logic

Used. To draw out more than what is put in.
Everyone wants beyond; even with the one
Last page as exit plan it is by return

How we will be known. To end up where we start
Again and to look as if we gained.