Cecilia Woloch was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and grew up there and in rural Kentucky, one of seven children of a homemaker and an airplane mechanic. She is the recipient of a 2011 NEA fellowship and the author of six award-winning collections of poems: Sacrifice, a BookSense 76 Selection in 2001; Tsigan: The Gypsy Poem; Late, for which she was named Georgia Author of the Year in 2004; Narcissus, winner of the Tupelo Press Snowbound Prize for the chapbook in 2006; Carpathia, published in 2009 and a finalist for the Milton Kessler Award; and Earth, winner of the 2014 Two Sylvias Press Prize for the Chapbook. She has also published a novel, Sur la Route (Quale Press 2015). Tsigan: The Gypsy Poem, has been adapted for multi-media performances around the world, and was published in French translation in 2014. Cecilia collaborates regularly with visual artists, musicians and dancers. Her poems have been translated into French, German, Bulgarian and Polish, and recent prose has been published in Ukrainian. She spends a part of each year traveling, and in recent years has divided her time between Los Angeles, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Shepherdsville, Kentucky; Paris, France; and a small village in the Carpathian mountains of southeastern Poland. Cecilia also runs private workshops for writers in the U.S. and Europe. Maxine Kumin says of Cecilia Woloch's poetry: To write movingly about love in an era infused with hate requires a special gift: nostalgia hard-edged with realism. She has that gift.

 

Three poems from Earth:

Little Song For The One Afraid

Oh beloved, oh afraid
of the bloodstain, dark spot, ticking clock
of what has shone in your life like luck -
too bright to last - oh fortunate
who slipped the licked stones, glittering
inside your pockets, spread your arms
and dreamt your ghost wings would unfurl
from your bony shoulders -angel bones -
and that the sky would hold you up
and love - a tree from which you swung -
oh branch you called your father's name
oh bird who sang your mother's song
oh little sweeper of the world
whose life inside my life has burned.

 

2006

In the year of the poppy year of the cornflower
year of the meadow of yarrow and buttercup
year of the thistle and ox-eyed daisy
in the spring of the year of our lord
of the train the engine the ticket the map
of the landscape of leaf shadow willow white birch
blurring past in the smoke of the burning fields
in the blue mist of evening the ringing of bells
ringing out for the living the living the dead
of the last great war which is one long war
of the ancient soldier come in his uniform
to stand hopefully at the door
of the house of no mirrors swept of ash
(in which I was a guest of the dark bread and rain)
to ask Have the Germans already left?
sixty years after the forests were flushed
of the last of our enemies last of the partisans
of the holy republic of mud
of the blood mixed with earth of the bones of itself
of which no one knows but the trees anymore
of which no one speaks but the child made of grass.

 

Harry & Pearl: A Villanelle

My father wears shoes in the afterworld
- the shiny, brown dress shoes we buried him in.
My mother goes barefoot and answers to Pearl

though that wasn't her name. Daddy called her girl
and told us, Your mother works hard; be good kids.
Now Daddy wears shoes in the afterworld

because he lay shoeless his last years, lay curled
like a child in his bed crying out, or he'd sing
and our mother went barefoot and answered him. Pearl

was her middle name, given her, slurred, at birth
- a drunken grand uncle's grandiose gift.
But our father wears shoes in the afterworld

and our mother, who followed him - ever his jewel -
to wherever they've gone, in her last white dress
goes barefoot beside him now, answers to Pearl

- won't answer to mother and won't be implored;
she cooked and she cleaned and she sang that's enough.
Now my father wears shoes in the afterworld

- shiny brown dress shoes - and gives her a twirl
in his arms, she's his girl, she's his girl again, laughs -
my mother, who's barefoot and answers to Pearl

when I call to her, call to my sweet disappeared
mother and father who slipped through my breath.
My father wears shoes in the afterworld.
My mother goes barefoot and answers to Pearl.

 

Cecilia Woloch

Photo by Mark Savage

 

2016 Cecilia Woloch


 

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