Biography of Reginald Shepherd
an American poet, born in New York City and raised in the Bronx. He died of cancer in Penascola, Florida, in 2008.
Shepherd graduated from Bennington College in 1988, and received MFAs from Brown University and the University of Iowa, where he attended the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop. He subsequently taught at Northern Illinois University and Cornell University. In his last year at the University of Iowa, he received the "Discovery" prize from the 92nd Street Y, and his first collection, Some Are Drowning (1994), was chosen by Carolyn Forché for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs' Award in Poetry.
His other collections are: Fata Morgana (2007), winner of the Silver Medal of the 2007 Florida Book Awards; Otherhood (2003), a finalist for the 2004 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Wrong (1999); and Angel, Interrupted (1996).
He is also the author of A Martian Muse: Further Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry (published posthumously in 2010), Orpheus in the Bronx: Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry (2007) and the editor of The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries (2004) and of Lyric Postmodernisms (2008).
His work has been widely anthologized, including in four editions of The Best American Poetry and two Pushcart Prize anthologies. His honors and awards include grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, the Florida Arts Council, and the Guggenheim Foundation. His 2008 book of essays, Orpheus in the Bronx, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism.
Reginald Shepherd's Works:
Some Are Drowning (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993)
Angel, Interrupted (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996)
Wrong (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999)
Otherhood (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003)
Fata Morgana (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007)
A Martian Muse: Further Readings on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry (Poets on Poetry Series, University of Michigan Press, 2010)
Orpheus in the Bronx: Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry (Poets on Poetry Series, University of Michigan Press, 2008)
The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries (University of Iowa Press, 2004)
Lyric Postmodernisms (Counterpath Press, 2008)
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Reginald Shepherd Poems
Drawing From Life
Look: I am building absence out of this room's air, I'm reading suppositions into summer's script snarled on a varnished floor. It looks like a man. That knot's his hand
My Mother Was No White Dove
no dove at all, coo-rooing through the dusk and foraging for small seeds My mother was the clouded-over night a moon swims through, the dark against which stars
You are like me, you will die too, but not today: you, incommensurate, therefore the hours shine: if I say to you “To you I say,” you have not been set to music, or broadcast live on the ghost
He winds through the party like wind, one of the just who live alone in black and white, bewildered by the eden of his body. (You, you talk like winter rain.) He's the meaning of almost-morning walking home
Orpheus Plays The Bronx
When I was ten (no, younger than that), my mother tried to kill herself (without the facts there can't be faith). One death
Eros In His Striped Blue Shirt
and green plaid shorts goes strolling through Juneau Park at eight o’clock with only a hooded yellow windbreaker for protection, trawling the bushes after work
See my colors fall apart? Green to yellow with just one shade gone, the changing tints of your sun-struck eyes, if there were sun. Today the prism held to mine’s
At that time I didn't understand snow, the absence inside July, water and what holds the water in. Heard "It takes more than a forest
Occasionally a god speaks to you, rutted tollway a flint knife breaching gutted fields hung on event
for Chris I'm a penny fallen from heaven's
Distance is money just out of reach, a kindness like rain-laden clouds that never drops its coins. Epochs of fossilized trees crawl rusting hillside
Until She Returns
This is how I say it ends, Bronx County, 1978. Packed up all my cares and woe in a plastic garbage bag. It took an hour, maybe less.
How People Disappear
If this world were mine, the stereo starts, but can't begin to finish the phrase. I might survive it, someone could add, but that
I drift into the sound of wind, how small my life must be to fit into his palm like that, holly leaf, bluejay feather, milkweed fluff,
Distance is money just out of reach,
a kindness like rain-laden clouds
that never drops its coins. Epochs
of fossilized trees crawl rusting hillside
strata: they smell like somewhere else
I've never been, an Anatolia
just outside the mind. Geometries
of travel and desire (from here to want
and back again), the myths of pleasure