The founder of the creative writing program at Dartmouth College, Cleopatra Mathis was born and raised in Ruston, Louisiana, and has lived in New England since 1982. She is the author of eight books of poems. Her many awards and prizes include a Guggenheim Fellowship, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and two Pushcart Prizes. Her poems have appeared in journals, magazines, and anthologies, including The New Yorker, Threepenny Review, The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, Ploughshares, Best American Poetry, and The Extraordinary Tide: Poetry by American Women.
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The Louisiana Poet Laureate Presents Louisiana Poets
with Gina Ferrara, David Havird, Rodger Kamenetz, Julie Kane, Dorie LaRue, Cleopatra Mathis, Patrice Melnick, Mona Lisa Saloy, and Martha Serpas
From her first book, Aerial View of Louisiana, published in 1979, Cleopatra Mathis has given us poems that somehow manage to be elegant and visceral at once. What has changed in the progression of the six collections since then―in poetry addressing marriage, the mystery of animals, the delicate and indelible bonds of family, illness, and mortality―is that the visceral quotient has steadily increased, though the elegance remains undiminished. For Mathis, the natural world no longer provides the affirmation and solace it once did; the navigation of a darkened hallway at night is a perilous expedition. After the Body charts the depredations of an illness that seems intent on removing the body, piece by piece. Through close and relentless observation of her own physical being, Mathis shows us how miniscule ambition, planning, and a sense of control over our own bodies are―things we so blithely take as real and solid when healthy. Her many publications, awards, and praise from peers testify that she is a lyric poet of the highest order. This expansive new book reflects a brilliant career, and is a necessary addition to any collection.
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