blackbirdonline journalSpring 2017  Vol. 16 No. 1

Introduction and Table of Contents

spacerspacer AWP Memorial Panel and Reading
   Remembering Claudia Emerson
   with panelists Kathleen Graber, Jill
   McCorckle, Emilia Phillips, Wyatt Prunty,
   featured readers, & audience members.

Andrew Hudgins
   Claudia Emerson: Elegy after Elegy

Lauren Miner
   Elevating the Art: Claudia Emerson’s

  A link to Blackbird’s “Claudia Emerson Reading Loop” menu appears at the bottom of every page of related content. You may also return to this menu at any time by visiting Features. 

Welcome to the Claudia Emerson Reading Loop, a suite of materials gathered to recognize the life, work, and mentorship of Claudia Emerson. Here, Blackbird seeks to support her legacy through her poetry and other related content.

This particular Loop features a reading of her poems at the 2016 AWP Conference in Los Angeles. The reading is led by writers Kathleen Graber, Jill McCorkle, Emilia Phillips, and Wyatt Prunty. They are joined by Sandra Beasley, MaryKatherine Calloway, Erica Dawson, Mark Jarman, T.J. Jarrett, Christie Maurer, James Davis May, and Adam Vines. Several audience members read poems as well.

Also included are the essay “Claudia Emerson: Elegy after Elegy” by Andrew Hudgins, republished from The Writer’s Chronicle with the kind permission of AWP, and photographs taken by Lauren Miner of Emerson’s Richmond backyard tree house, the home of the “Treeshop” that she led the summer before her death.

The idea of the “Treeshop” demonstrates well Emerson’s gifts as a teacher and mentor. As her student, Christie Maurer, noted in Blackbird v15n1:

Claudia was known for her warm, inviting personality, and as many of her students and coworkers can attest, she made it easy to bridge the strictures of professionalism into friendship. She often hosted parties, grabbed coffee with students, and would go out of her way for those she cared about.

Emerson was our friend, and her absence still resonates in our thoughts and in our encounters with not only her work but also with the birds’ nests or possums or odd totems that might present themselves on a walk through a neighborhood or by the James River.

As Andrew Hudgins notes in his essay:

The hardest issue I had in writing about Claudia was using the past tense. I kept writing “is” and had to go back and change each “is” to “was,” and each correction was a re-realization and a renewed sorrow. Claudia’s work is imbued with death, and it was from the beginning. That sounds grim, but Claudia’s work is not. Claudia was too engagingly thoughtful and too vibrant an artist to be anything but exhilarating to read. Her obsessive meditations on death provide us with an unfolding set of instructions on how to mourn her or, larger than that, how to mourn and how to use the inevitability of death to press ourselves more deeply into what she called “the invariable // bliss of what is.”

So, please, continue to take pleasure in​,​ and be taught by​,​ Claudia Emerson’s poetry and​ the work of countless others she ​influenced, taught, or mentored.  end