Cecil S. Giscombe

Research Expertise and Interest

Creative Writing

Research Description

Cecil S. Giscombe is a Professor and The Robert Hass Chair in English. 

Books in progress are "Negro Mountain" (poetry, forthcoming 2023, University of Chicago Press) and "Railroad Sense."

Negro Mountain (named for an 18th century “incident”) is a ridge in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania; its summit is the highest point in the state. The nature of the “Negro Mountain” book project is investigatory; thematic sites of the book—a single poem arranged into several sections—include responses to both the “natural world” (notably the relation between predators and prey) and the languages of race and historical conquest.  In the book’s poetry sequences readers are asked to consider “location” as a practice for composition and as a strategy for reading itself as the writing traces the contours—psychical, physical, political—of the named mountain. 

The mixed-genre "Railroad Sense" project is an attempt to address, partly synthesize, and—perhaps mostly—account for and trouble the intersections between some ideas pertaining to public transportation, color, landscape, and nature (and “nature writing”).  And "Railroad Sense," as the title suggests, is to be a book about the railroad.  (Much has been written about the railroad—it attracts hobbyists, economists, musicians, and the like.  I came to it in childhood via my parents, who were, in many senses, travelers.  The idea—which I encountered at a very young age—was that the “mechanics” of getting around was a complicated series of processes and, therefore, interesting and worthy of commentary.)

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