“Who is this Christopher Gilbert and why am I only just hearing about him?” asks poet Terrance Hayes in his new essay, “We Are Our Situations: The Poetry of Christopher Gilbert.”
Indeed, Gilbert is not one who would be easily found on bookshelves; in 1983, Michael S. Harper selected his manuscript, Across the Mutual Landscape, as the winner of the Walt Whitman Award, and it was published by Graywolf Press the following year. However, that would be Gilbert’s first and only published collection, as he then disappeared from the poetry world.
In “We Are Our Situations,” Hayes recounts his personal discovery of the poet’s work and the unique experience that characterizes Gilbert’s work as his own: “These are not difficult poems, but difficulty is often their subject: the difficulty of the gaps between selves, between being and thinking, between timelessness and time.”
While Gilbert only published one book in his lifetime, his second manuscript, Chris Gilbert: An Improvisation (Music of the Striving That Was There), will soon be available to readers. This summer Graywolf Press, as part of their Re/View series, edited by Academy Chancellor Mark Doty, presents Gilbert’s award-winning first book and his never-before-published manuscript in Turning into Dwelling.
Find out more about Turning into Dwelling and Hayes’ essay below.