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About this poet

Born in central Connecticut, Gabrielle Calvocoressi grew up in a family that owned movie theaters in several small towns across the state. She studied at Sarah Lawrence College and earned her MFA from Columbia University.

Calvocoressi's first book, The Last Time I saw Amelia Earhart (Persea Books, 2005), was shortlisted for the Northern California Book Award and won the 2006 Connecticut Book Award in Poetry. Her second collection, Apocalyptic Swing (Persea Books, 2009), was a finalist for the 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

A Booklist review for The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart notes: "There is something distinctly American not only in the rural towns she depicts and the voices she 'channels' but also in a brutally honest yet compassionately tender revelation of hidden truths. Calvocoressi has moved beyond the popular poetry of 'self' in an effort to understand other perspectives in this original and riveting collection."

Calvocoressi's awards and honors include a Stegner Fellowship, a Jones Lectureship at Stanford University and a Rona Jaffe Women Writers' Award. Her poem "Circus Fire, 1944" received The Paris Review's Bernard F. Connors Prize. She teaches at the MFA programs at California College of Arts in San Francisco and at Warren Wilson College. She also runs the sports desk for the Best American Poetry Blog.

Rocket Fantastic [excerpt]

Gabrielle Calvocoressi
It's ridiculous what fame
can buy you. Not the beast
but the tiny, frightened
man who brings him
in a cage from Alhambra,
who stands in the doorway
as the three girls finish,
get off the bed and walk down 
to the pool, giggling as they pass.
The Bandleader borrowed
a tiger because we saw it 
in a reel the studio sent over,
some movie about a prince
that played against the wall
of the upstairs bedroom. 
Sometimes a girl would jump 
into the pool and the waves  
shimmered up. In the movie
the prince brings the tiger
to the castle and it rules
alongside him, "That's not 
believable," the Bandleader  
said and then, "Don't stop." 
And then, "Ah. Right there."
The prince would place his hand 
on the tiger's head and grab 
his hair in his fist and move 
it around. I liked to watch 
him start to want things, a wetness
forming in his mind. There were 
three girls squealing in the pool
and the waves  came up to us 
as ripples of light that I passed 
my fingers through, "You're blue 
with gold stripes," the Bandleader 
said, looking up at me 
but imagining the tiger beside him 
already, before he even  
reached for the phone.

Copyright © 2011 by Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2011 by Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Used with permission of the author.

Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Calvocoressi's awards and honors include a Stegner Fellowship, a Jones Lectureship at Stanford University and a Rona Jaffe Women Writers' Award

by this poet

poem

He's really beautiful. When he's standing in the trees like that and thinks nobody sees him. He's like a stag. Which sounds silly but he is. The way the light shines on him. The way it bounces off his hair like spray from the sprinkler. And he doesn't know it right then. Because he's looking somewhere else. Maybe

poem
It isn't how we look up close
so much as in dreams.

Our giant is not so tall,
our lizard boy merely flaunts

crusty skin- not his fault 
they keep him in a crate

and bathe him maybe once a week.
When folks scream or clutch their hair

and poke at us and glare and speak
of how we slithered up from Hell,

it is
poem
Some lose children in lonelier ways:
tetanus, hard falls, stubborn fevers

that soak the bedclothes five nights running.
Our two boys went out to skate, broke

through the ice like battleships, came back
to us in canvas bags: curled

fossils held fast in ancient stone,
four hands reaching. Then two

sad beds