Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet
“Like the estranged lover in one of her poems who pitches horseshoes in the dark with preternatural precision, so Emerson sends her words into a different kind of darkness with steely exactness, their arc of perception over and over striking true.” —Deborah Pope
Claudia Emerson received the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her book Late Wife: Poems (LSU Press, 2005). Secure the Shadow, her newest collection, was published in 2012. She is also the author of Figure Studies: Poems, Pinion: An Elegy, and Pharaoh, Pharaoh; all volumes are published in Dave Smith's Southern Messenger Poets series. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Southern Review, Shenandoah, TriQuarterly, New England Review, and other journals.
Emerson is the recipient of a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Commission for the Arts. She was the Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2008-2010.
She is professor of English and Arrington Distinguished Chair in Poetry at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
About SECURE THE SHADOW (2012)
Daringly realistic and artfully mediated by past and present, Claudia Emerson’s Secure the Shadow contains historical pieces as well as poems centering on the deaths of the poet’s brother and father. Emerson covers all aspects of the tragedies that, as Keats believed, contribute to our human collective of Soul-making, in which each death accrues into an immortal web of ongoing love and meaning for the living. Emerson’s unwavering gaze shows that loss cannot be eluded, but can be embraced in elegies as devastating as they are beautiful.
About LATE WIFE (2005)
“Claudia Emerson’s Late Wife tells the story of love lost and redeemed. Her poetry explores the way we attach meaning to things without us and connect them with our inner lives. In her hands heartbreak and healing turn as tangible as the material world she observes with such love and such precision.” —Mark Jarman
In the Pulitzer Prize winning book, Late Wife, a woman explores her disappearance from one life and reappearance in another as she addresses her former husband, herself, and her new husband in a series of epistolary poems. Though not satisfied in her first marriage, she laments vanishing from the life she and her husband shared for years. She then describes the unexpected joys of solitude during her recovery and emotional convalescence. Finally, in a sequence of sonnets, she speaks to her new husband, whose first wife died from lung cancer. The poems highlight how the speaker’s rebeginning in this relationship has come about in part because of two couples’ respective losses. The most personal of Claudia Emerson’s poetry collections, Late Wife is both an elegy and a celebration of a rich present informed by a complex past.