Biography of Evie Shockley
Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Evie Shockley received her BA from Northwestern University. After studying Law at the University of Michigan, she earned her PhD in African Literature from Duke University.
Shockley's first book, The Gorgon Goddess, was published by Carolina Wren Press in 2001. Since then she has published three books: a half-red sea (Carolina Wren Press, 2006), 31 words * prose poems (Belladonna* Books, 2007), and the new black (Wesleyan University Press, 2011).
Embracing both free verse and formal structures, Shockley straddles the divide between traditional and experimental poetics. A review of her work in Library Journal noted that, "Shockley’s work incorporates elements of myth without being patently 'mythical' and is personal without being self-indulgent, sentimental without being saccharine." Her reported influences include Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, and Harryette Mullen.
A Cave Canem graduate fellow, Shockley was also awarded a residency at the Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers in 2003. Two of her poems were displayed in the Biko 30/30 exhibit, a commemoration of the life and work of anti-apartheid activist Steven Biko, which toured South Africa in 2007.
Shockley was co-editor of the poetry journal jubilat from 2004-2007, and teaches African American Literature and Creative Writing at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
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Evie Shockley Poems
Where Is It Clean
when your mother can rise from her place on the pew during the early service, early enough that the sun barely fills the sky
i cop a squat on a squared-off log, to watch you ball on the community center court. butt numb, i shift my weight
On New Year's Eve
we make midnight a maquette of the year: frostlight glinting off snow to solemnize the vows we offer to ourselves in near
— Shall Become As —
you put this pen in my hand and you take the pen from you put this pen
A Sonnet For Stanley Tookie Williams
All month this country has careened toward cold and winter's celebrations: what a star announced—a birth—and then a chance to fold
Where You Are Planted
He's as high as a georgia pine, my father'd say, half laughing. southern trees as measure, metaphor. highways lined with kudzu-covered southern trees.
Notes To My Nieces (Or, Essays In Fortun...
when i was younger, trees were green, money was green, money grew on trees, or trees grew up
Waiting On The Mayflower
Arrived in a boat, named and unnamed, twenty, pirated
Her Tin Skin
i want her tin skin. i want her militant barbie breast, resistant, cupped, no, cocked
Pantoum: Landing, 1976
Dreaming the lives of the ancestors, you awake, justly terrified of this world: you could dance underwater and not get wet,
Statistical Haiku (Or, How Do They Disco...
only 3 of 100 black boys entering kindergarten will graduate college— in the night sky, shooting stars
my sister's visit to india begins it. i asked for a sari,
Effect Shrewd Preferences
the screed seen here blesses the sweet, the meek, the gentle, the serene. let eyes ensembled
Playing With Fire
something is always burning, passion, pride, envy, desire, the internal organs going chokingly up in smoke, as some- thing outside the body exerts a pull
i cop a squat on a squared-off log,
to watch you ball on the community center court.
butt numb, i shift my weight
and shake mosquitos from my ankles,
but never take my eyes off the game.
yours follow the orange orb, your pupils
twin, brown moons reflecting its light.