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About this poet

Thylias Moss was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on February 27, 1954. She received a BA from Oberlin College in 1981 and an MA from the University of New Hampshire in 1983.

She is the author of several poetry collections, including Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code: New & Selected Poems (Persea Books, 2016), Tokyo Butter: A Search for Forms of Deidre (Persea Books, 2006), Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler (Persea Books, 1998), and Hosiery Seams on a Bowlegged Woman (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1983).

The poet Linda Gregerson writes, “Thylias Moss has never been a poet of easy comforts…. With fury and exhilarating velocity, she heads straight into the maelstrom. She excoriates; she sings.”

Moss has received fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Library of Congress, the MacArthur Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Whiting Foundation, among others. She has previously taught at Phillips Andover Academy, the University of New Hampshire, and Brandeis University. She currently serves as a professor emerita at the University of Michigan, and she lives in Michigan.


Bibliography

Poetry
Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code: New & Selected Poems (Persea Books, 2016)
Tokyo Butter: A Search for Forms of Deidre (Persea Books, 2006)
Slave Moth: A Narrative in Verse (Persea Books, 2004)
Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler (Persea Books, 1998)
Small Congregations: New and Selected Poems (Ecco Press, 1993)
Rainbow Remnants in Rock Bottom Ghetto Sky (Persea Books, 1991)
At Redbones (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1990)
Pyramid of Bone (University Press of Virginia, 1989)
Hosiery Seams on a Bowlegged Woman (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1983)

Prose
Tale of a Sky-Blue Dress (Bard, 1998)

Interpretation of a Poem by Frost

A young black girl stopped by the woods,
so young she knew only one man: Jim Crow
but she wasn’t allowed to call him Mister.
The woods were his and she respected his boundaries
even in the absences of fence.
Of course she delighted in the filling up
of his woods, she so accustomed to emptiness,
to being taken at face value.
This face, her face eternally the brown
of declining autumn, watches snow inter the grass,
cling to bark making it seem indecisive
about race preference, a fast-to-melt idealism.
With the grass covered, black and white are the only options,
polarity is the only reality; corners aren’t neutral
but are on edge.
She shakes off snow, defiance wasted
on the limited audience of horse.
The snow does not hypnotize her as it wants to,
as the blond sun does in making too many prefer daylight.
She has promises to keep,
the promise that she bear Jim no bastards,
the promise that she ride the horse only as long
as it is willing to accept riders,
the promise that she bear Jim no bastards,
the promise to her face that it not be mistaken as shadow,
and miles to go, more than the distance from Africa to Andover
more than the distance from black to white
before she sleeps with Jim.

Thylias Moss, "Interpretation of a Poem by Frost" from Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities' Red Dress Code: New & Selected Poems. Copyright © 2003 by Thylias Moss. Reprinted with the permission of Persea Books, Inc. (New York). www.perseabooks.com.

Thylias Moss, "Interpretation of a Poem by Frost" from Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities' Red Dress Code: New & Selected Poems. Copyright © 2003 by Thylias Moss. Reprinted with the permission of Persea Books, Inc. (New York). www.perseabooks.com.

Thylias Moss

Thylias Moss was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She is the author of several poetry collections, including Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code: New & Selected Poems (Persea Books, 2016).

by this poet

poem

         Thanksgiving 2004: I’m thankful for

Columbo’s eye, Peter Falk’s indivisible
from the other’s vitreous dupe that he can pocket,
rub into, off of, and shine the crystal eyeball after
it subs in a game of table pool. Oh yeah!

The future of fortunes is manufactured

poem
This did not happen



although I have memories of it:
a doctor unwrapping a tutu 
so I knew I was in a hospital
but one unlike any other
practicing strange medicine 
but this strangeness has been effective


A hospital for dancers?




I was in pink,
sequined

I had been in a street,
an alley and

I was left
poem
Snow White was nude at her wedding, she's so white
the gown seemed to disappear when she put it on.

Put me beside her and the proximity is good
for a study of chiaroscuro, not much else.

Her name aggravates me most, as if I need to be told
what's white and what isn't.

Judging strictly by appearance there's a