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About this poet

Sophie Cabot Black was born in New York City in 1958 and grew up on a small farm in Connecticut. She received a BA from Marlboro College in 1980 and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University in 1984.

She is the author of The Exchange (Graywolf Press, 2013); The Descent (Graywolf Press, 2004), winner of the Connecticut Book Award; and The Misunderstanding of Nature (Graywolf Press, 1994), winner of the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award. The Boston Review notes, “Black’s taut, resonant lyrics are chastened of all excess verbiage and reveal a poet of keen assurance and consummate craft, but perhaps what most amazes the reader is that such honed writing can speak with such emotional immediacy.”

In an interview for the New Yorker, Black says, “For me, the act of writing comes out of query. Each image turns to the next with its question and gets answered. Or with its answer it gets questioned. Poetry is my way to understand what is difficult. How one thing can be explained through another—is to get closer, to unhide what feels hidden.”

The recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Bunting Institute, Black has taught at the New School, Rutgers, and Columbia University. She divides her time between New York City and Wilton, Connecticut.


Selected Bibliography

The Exchange (Graywolf Press, 2013)
The Descent (Graywolf Press, 2004
The Misunderstanding of Nature (Graywolf Press, 1994)

Private Equity

To put one and one together making
Two and so on. A house appears, room
With a bed in it. To configure anyway,

Even without enough information.
We work into it, the chosen. To measure
Everything out until the one who takes over

Becomes taken. This as strategy, the art
Of how we build until management
In turn builds us, elegant the logic

Used. To draw out more than what is put in.
Everyone wants beyond; even with the one
Last page as exit plan it is by return

How we will be known. To end up where we start
Again and to look as if we gained.

Sophie Cabot Black, "Private Equity"  from The Exchange (Graywolf Press, 2013). Copyright © 2013 by Sophie Cabot Black. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc. on behalf of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.

Sophie Cabot Black, "Private Equity"  from The Exchange (Graywolf Press, 2013). Copyright © 2013 by Sophie Cabot Black. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc. on behalf of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.

Sophie Cabot Black

Sophie Cabot Black

Sophie Cabot Black is the author of The Misunderstanding of Nature (Graywolf Press, 2013).

by this poet

poem

Which cannot be written tries anyway—
From one room to another, each time startled
And does not want to hear of the already

Passed through, the country of before.
Poem that at each door believes itself
In the room closest to the end

Where finally everything will be gone over,

poem

As the leaves turn their backs on us
And the lilac gives over to dusk, nothing
Is ever certain, not even the house, stubborn

In twilight as it outlasts the grove
It was wrestled from. Those left behind,
The oak and ancient elm, lean against each other

As if in consent. Out of dirt,

poem

This time it does not begin with the beaver
Instead only halfway up the mountain
Where the sheep we keep each year come through

Winter enough to answer us, enough
For us to shear, deft before the coming storm,
To take away from the body what it did not know

It grew and then

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