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About this poet

E. M. Schorb has published several collections of poetry, including Time and Fevers: New and Selected Poems (AuthorsHouse, 2004), which was chosen as a 2007 Eric Hoffer Book Award winner; A Fable & Other Prose Poems (2002), Murderer's Day (1998), winner of the Verna Emery Poetry Prize; 50 Poems (1987); and The Poor Boy and Other Poems (1975); and a chapbook, Like the Fall of Rome and Other Humanitarian Disasters (1980).

He is also the author of two novels: Paradise Square, which won the International eBook Award Foundation's Frankfurt eBook Award for "Best Fiction work originally published in eBook form," and Scenario for Scorsese (both Denlinger's Publishers, 2000).

His poems and prose have appeared in Best American Fantasy 2007, as well as The American Scholar, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Chattahoochee Review, Chelsea, The Literary Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Southern Review, The Sewanee Review, The Texas Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Yale Review, among other journals.

His honors include fellowships in literature from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and the North Carolina Arts Council, and grants from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, the Carnegie Fund for Authors, and Robert Rauschenberg & Change, Inc. (for illustrations in The Poor Boy).

He lives in Mooresville, North Carolina.


E. M. Schorb

for the musical ghost of Blind Lemon Jefferson

   Leadbelly, grim with your Cajun accordian, 
with your harmonica blues, with your knife
   flicking down the twelve strings of your guitar
--the Rock Island Line was a mighty good road--
   bowing, scraping, white-suited trainman. . .
made your pride sick, but you sang,
   fast, strong, quiet, like a driven
demon, like you had to get it out
   before a razor dumped your guts
on a blood-mud taphouse floor,
   or some drunk crazy rednecks
nailed you up like Christ, in a dangerous world 
   for anybody but most America for a black
poet of low-down places and sky-high loves.

   Leadbelly, thirty years hard time murder, 
six and a half, sang your way out, ten more, intent,
   then Alan Lomax and his bro, John, folklorists--
makes you laugh inside at night--white boys,
   playing--but they get you out again and in 
the Library of Congress, that grinding
   voice part now of something big, like 
storm darkness, like that lifething,
   love, always beyond somewhere or
crying deep inside, in a dark place,
   yeah, big like music, big like that gal you 
call Irene! How many Irenes, you think?

   Even the Lomax bros, even them white boys, 
they know Irene--you driving them through
   New York traffic, them folkloring in back and you
being their folkloring black chauffeur.
   You drink sharp liquor in Harlem, play 
with Woody Guthrie, Sonny Terry, Brownie
   McGhee, the Headline Singers--radio too,
Hollywood and Three Songs by Leadbelly,
   a French tour. . . . You show 'em your razor 
stretch marks, your shotpitted pot.
   Good night Irene I'll see you in my dreams. . .
all that good hot mean hard American life
   and Lou Gehrig's amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. 
It's The Midnight Special! Fade me, Death!

From Murderer's Day by E. M. Schorb, published by Purdue University Press. Copyright © 1998 by E. M. Schorb. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.

E. M. Schorb

E. M. Schorb

E. M. Schorb has published several collections of poetry, including Time and

by this poet


The New York Draft Riots

Vanish these walls, vanish this wealth, with visionary eyes that see 
back to hot July 1863. Vanish where wealth shines shopping on Fifth 
Avenue, five minutes from the lion-braced library, where I turn down 

my book. Vanish these great, gray walls, to see when this
There are more women than 
men in the nursing home and
more men than old doctors.

Staff doctors visit once a 
month. The few old men do 
very little but sleep. Two 

or three of them occasionally
gather outside in clear
weather for a smoke, which

is allowed them. I suppose
those in charge feel that
it can make