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.
you put this pen
in my hand and you
take the pen from you put this pen
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
i want her tin skin. i want
her militant barbie breast,
resistant, cupped, no, cocked