I still consider Evie Shockley a North Carolina poet, even though she was born in Tennessee and now teaches at Rutgers. She has strong ties to our state, having taught at Wake Forest University for a number of years and being involved in the Carolina African-American Writers Collective. I came to know her and her work during my stint as Poet Laureate, and she has been one of my favorites ever since.
Evie is the author of four collections of poetry: the new black (Wesleyan, 2011), a half-red sea (Carolina Wren Press, 2006), and two chapbooks. Her study Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry will be published by the University of Iowa Press in 2011. She co-edits the poetry journal jubilat and is an assistant professor of English at Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where she teaches African American literature and creative writing. The following poem is from her new collection, just out from Wesleyan University Press.
my last modernist poem, #4
(or, re-re-birth of a nation)
a clean-cut man brings a brown blackness
to a dream-carved, unprecedented
place. some see in this the end of race,
like the end of a race that begins
with a gun: a finish(ed) line we might
finally limp across. for others,
this miracle marks an end like year’s
end, the kind that whips around again
and again: an end that is chilling,
with a lethal spring coiled in the snow.
ask lazarus about miracles:
the hard part comes afterwards. he stepped
into the reconstruction of his
life, knowing what would come, but not how.