NEA Literature Fellowships

G.C. Waldrep

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(2007 - Poetry)


As far as darkness is from God
the world keeps dreaming.  I dream with it,
with each breath I consent
to the torsion of these orchards, this fertile plain.
Ahead of me, in the track,
a crow pinches life from an angleworm--
thus answers aftermath with inclusion.
Indeed I covet the storm's violence.
For who among men has overtaken that ragged figure at field's edge?
Consider the waltz, its irresponsible geometry,
replay of the drama
in which teeth strike crisp flesh
at the onset of winter.
This was the ambition of the bud's fluted glory.
This is the superscrip­tion of an immoderate regret.
I am that spark, with each return
I lift the image of my conscious flaw
past the pleasure of pure apprehension,
taste, sight, smell, touch,
the whole governing entablature.
Only the ear is vital, only the cochlea preserves its garland.
I walk among the trunks and their ash-collars.
A flame, thus kindled, draws straw
deep from the stone of finished brick, teasing out that thread--
as a stream divides each rush from his long brother
I sift, I harvest, I burn.

G.C. Waldrep's first book of poems, Goldbeater's Skin, won the 2003 Colorado Prize for Poetry. His second full-length collection, Disclamor, is scheduled to appear in September 2007.  He is also the author of two chapbooks, The Batteries and One Way No Exit. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, Gettysburg Review, Boston Review, New England Review, Georgia Review, Colorado Review, Tin House, New American Writing, and other journals.  His work has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Poetry Society of America, the North Carolina Arts Council, the Campbell Corner Foundation, and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. He is also the author of a nonfiction book, Southern Workers and the Search for Community. Currently he is serving as a visiting assistant professor of English at Kenyon College.

Author's Statement

As a poet, one typically writes in isolation, with a handful of readers--or perhaps that elusive "ideal reader" -- in mind.  It is always startling -- gratifying, but also a little unnerving -- to find evidence that one's work is reaching a larger audience than one expected or imagined.

My NEA grant arrived in the wake of two recently-completed manuscripts and on the cusp of a professional move to a new job in a new state. I hope to use the funds to bridge the gap between jobs, so that I can explore possibilities for future writing projects this summer.