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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. She is also the author of Rocket Fantastic (Persea Books, 2017).

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.

[Locked away we’re like a Russian novel:]

Locked away we’re like a Russian novel:

                                               the hermit and the cowboy,

me stepping from the train.

                                               A world of snow. Whose Great Coat a den

of baby foxes skinned and sewn together.

                                               We’re a field of stars,

all the peasants’ sheep shorn in haste

                                               made into a carpet placed beneath my feet,

the stationmaster’s son sent through the night to find us

                                               this small room.

[symbol]’s the foxes and the wolves.

                                              [symbol]’s the doves with their curved necks

waiting out the rain. [symbol]’s the grass

                                               starting to shake. [symbol]’s the medals

on whose own bureau, the silver

                                               glinting on whose horse’s bridle.

I said, Samovar sounds like a knight.

                                               It’s just a fancy tea pot. [symbol]’s my samovar,

the steam that makes my cheeks glow

                                               so all the women talk. [symbol]’s the snow

covering the wolf’s tracks,

                                               the party of sleds sent out and not returning

[symbol]gives me whose alphabet of notes

                                               One by one each day. [symbol]’s a thousand pages

read across the endless plains til [symbol] rides hard

                                               beneath my window and helps me down

as the first flakes fall and I say,

                                               You brought the first snow for me.

From Rocket Fantastic (Persea Books, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Used with the permission of Persea Books. 

From Rocket Fantastic (Persea Books, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Used with the permission of Persea Books. 

Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Gabrielle Calvocoressi's most recent poetry collection is Rocket Fantastic (Persea Books, 2017).

by this poet

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
poem
Oh, my planet, how beautiful 
you are. Little curve that leads me 
to the lakeside. Let me step out

of the sack of skin I wore 
on earth. It’s good to be home. 
No more need to name me. No more 

need to make the shape of a machete
with my mouth. Pushing up up up the tired 
sides that want to drop below my teeth
2
poem
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