poem index

About this poet

On July 10, 1953, Laurie Sheck was born in the Bronx, New York. She is the author of several collections of poetry, including Captivity (Knopf, 2007), which interacts, in part, with the journals of Gerard Manley Hopkins; Black Series (2001); The Willow Grove (1996), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Io at Night (1990); and Amaranth (1981).

She is also the editor of the anthology Poem a Day, Volume 2 (Zoland, 2003), and the author of the hybrid work A Monster's Notes (Knopf, 2009), which re-examines the un-named monster in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Her poems have been included in two volumes of Best American Poetry and three volumes of The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses.

About Sheck's work, the poet C. K. Williams has said, "Rarely, if ever, has the contemporary lyric been both so pure and so informed with varieties of experience." The poet Rita Dove has said, "Laurie Sheck is a modern shaman...'Listen carefully.' she whispers; and you do, because your life depends on it."

Her honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New Jersey State Council for the Arts. She has also been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.

Laurie Sheck has been a member of the creative writing faculty at Princeton University, and currently teaches in the M.F.A. program at the New School. She lives in New York City.

Selected Bibliography

Amaranth (Knopf, 1981)
Io at Night (1990)
The Willow Grove (1996)
Black Series (2001)
Captivity (2007)
A Monster's Notes (2009)

And water lies plainly

Laurie Sheck, 1953
Then I came to an edge of very calm
But couldn’t stay there. It was the washed greenblue mapmakers use to indicate
Inlets and coves, softbroken contours where the land leaves off
And water lies plainly, as if lamped by its own justice. I hardly know how to say how it was
Though it spoke to me most kindly,
Unlike a hard afterwards or the motions of forestalling.

Now in evening light the far-off ridge carries marks of burning.
The hills turn thundercolored, and my thoughts move toward them, rough skins
Without their bodies. What is the part of us that feels it isn’t named, that doesn’t know
How to respond to any name? That scarcely or not at all can lift its head
Into the blue and so unfold there?

Excerpted from Capitivity by Laurie Sheck. Copyright © 2007 by Laurie Sheck. Used by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Laurie Sheck

Laurie Sheck was born in the Bronx, New York. She is the