blackbirdonline journalSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1

Introduction & Table of Contents

spacerspacer Claudia Emerson
Poems from Claude Before Time and Space
appearing previously in Blackbird
   v15n1 (opens in archive)

   v13n2 (opens in archive)
      Bird Ephemera

Emilia Phillips
A 2014 email interview with Claudia Emerson
   Introduction to Claudia Emerson’s Poems
      in Waxwing

Catherine MacDonald
   Bird Study
   Elegy with Barred Owl
   A Note on the Art in the Oncologist's Office
   Sentinel Species

   Until There Is Nothing Else to Tell

  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 calls attention to the publication of Claude before Time and Space, which appeared earlier this year from Louisiana State University Press.

The book is the third collection of poems published since Emerson’s death and is the last that she shaped for publication.

We invite your attention to six poems from Claude before Time and Space previously published in Blackbird v15n1: “Acre,” “Ghost-Road,” “Rabbit,” “Rabies,” “Razor,” and “Seed.”

Another poem from the collection, “Bird Ephemera,” first appeared in Blackbird v13n2.

Of particular interest to Emerson were the new resonances and possibilities that arose from the art of forming a collection, of making a book. She speaks to this process in an interview conducted by Emilia Phillips, originally published by Waxwing in 2015:

I have long conceived of books as I write the poems that will compose them. The interest for me, I suppose, is in the meaning that a sequence can make as opposed to individual, stand-alone poems. I don’t mind at all that a poem can mean differently in the context of the book; find the slippage to be fascinating. I have very much enjoyed and learned much from exploring the possibilities of the long, more narrative book, the lyric sequence, as well as the shapely volume.

The interview, which introduced Emerson poems in Waxwing that are subsquently published in Claude before Time and Space, is reprinted here with that journal’s permission.

Claudia Emerson holding a mandola at Grave’s Mountain Lodge

Claudia Emerson holding a mandola at Grave’s Mountain Lodge, Syria Virginia, early 2000s. 

Also presented in the loop is Catherine MacDonald’s essay “Until There Is Nothing Else to Tell,” which remembers her friendship with Emerson and examines the creation of the book as Emerson’s illness progressed:

As I write this, I have Claude before Time and Space open beside me, these poems made despite and because of the anxiety, confusion, and exorbitant toll of mortal illness. Though conjured in the privacy of that illness, they are fully public now, and seem to me no less extraordinary than when they made their way into the world in the months before her death on December 4, 2014.

Five poems by MacDonald can also be found here, including “Elegy with Barred Owl,” which was written about—and dedicated to—Claudia Emerson. '

Photographs of Claudia Emerson, and her father Claude Emerson, in this issue are courtesy of Kent Ippolito.

Claudia Emerson by the Embrey Dam in Fredericksburg

Claudia Emerson by the Embrey Dam in Fredericksburg circa 2004.

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