Emerson, Claudia 1957-
EMERSON, Claudia 1957-
(Claudia Emerson Andrews)
Home—Chatham, VA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Louisiana State University Press, P.O. Box 25053, Baton Rouge, LA 70894-5053.
Poet and educator. Chatham Hall (girls' boarding school), Chatham, VA, academic dean, 1996-98; Mary Washington College, Fredericksburg, VA, associate professor of creative writing, 1998—. Poetry editor of the Greensboro Review.
Individual artist fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts, 1994; individual artist fellowship, Virginia Commission for the Arts, 1995; Associated Writing Programs Intro Award, 1997; Academy of American Poets Prize, 1997; Pulitzer Prize nomination, 1997, for Pharaoh, Pharaoh: Poems; Witter Bynner fellowship, Library of Congress, 2005.
(Under name Claudia Emerson Andrews) Pharaoh, Pharaoh: Poems, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1997.
Pinion: An Elegy, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 2002.
Late Wife (poetry), Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 2005.
Contributor to reviews and journals, including Ploughshares, Poetry, Georgia Review, TriQuarterly, Southern Review, and New England Review.
Claudia Emerson is the author of two volumes of poetry, Pharaoh, Pharaoh: Poems and Pinion: An Elegy. Born and raised in Chatham, Virginia, Emerson writes poems that are, as Diann Blakely noted in Nashville Scene, "redolent with … regional soil and its seasonal varieties." Emerson, who studied writing at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, published her first poetry collection in 1997 at age forty; it was an auspicious beginning for the debut poet, for that collection—Pharaoh, Pharaoh—was nominated for a Pulitzer prize.
Pharaoh, Pharaoh "explores the irony of loss, a theme Emerson identifies as particularly Southern," according to a contributor for Contemporary Southern Writers. In poems such as "Cleaning the Graves," "Searching the Title," and "Inheritance," she presents what one Publishers Weekly reviewer called "a meditation on the events and repercussions of lives lived in the South." The same reviewer praised the "soft, romantic spirit [that] haunts this collection." Similarly, America reviewer Edward J. Ingebretsen noted the "measured and elegiac" cadence of the poems and observed that Emerson's "confident narrative voice is intimate and richly detailed without being sentimental."
Pinion, published in 2002, is a series of short poems connected as one long poem that runs over fifty pages. It explores more rural values and qualities of Southern life through the voices of two members of a farming family, Preacher and Sister. Both siblings are caught in the web of family and farm obligations. Interspersed with their dialogue is narration by the youngest and last surviving sister of the family, Rose. Writing in the Blackbird Review Online, Susan Settlemyre Williams found this narrative verse a "haunting, and haunted, work." As compared to the author's first volume of poems about rural Southern life, Williams felt Pinion is "more a full-length portrait than a series of snapshots." Blakely commented that Emerson's language in both volumes "is gorgeous but reticent … commemorating, even celebrating, her family and the hard ground from which it sprang."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Southern Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
America, April 25, 1998, Edward J. Ingebretsen, review of Pharaoh, Pharaoh: Poems, p. 25.
Publishers Weekly, April 28, 1997, review of Pharaoh, Pharaoh, p. 71.
Blackbird Review Online,http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/ (fall, 2002), Susan Settlemyre Williams, review of Pinion: An Elegy.
Louisiana State University Press Web site,http://www.lsu.edu/ (November 3, 2004).
NashvilleScene.com,http://archives.nashvillescene.com/ (October 9, 2004), Diann Blakely, review of Pharaoh, Pharaoh and Pinion.