Remembering Carmen Gillespie through her words

Carmen Gillespie was brilliant in every sense of that word. She died this weekend. 
Read and hear her words: The Blue Black Wet of Wood. She wrote it after the death of her husband. 
Carmen speaks about the poem here:

“That little woman there, she brought us a lot of happiness, a lot of happiness.”

The Blue Black Wet of Wood 

Today’s rain is blue, a blue of skeletons and the underside of ashes.

Footsteps pool in azure and the sea seeps through

            in waves that remember the determined descent

            of drowning slaves.  The slog of night mosses my fingers

            as if to apprehend the ribs of trees and, somewhere,

            a song repeats in threes, calling little girls back home

from wherever obsidian away they may have roamed.

But the distance outlines an edge where a house may have stood,

and, oh, but the night and the blue black wet of wood. 

From the obituary in The Daily Item

Carmen began her teaching career at George Mason University. She continued her career as a professor of English, American, and African American literature at Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Mary Washington and the University of Toledo. Carmen worked for the past 13 years as a professor at Bucknell University, where she was the director of the Griot Institute for the Study of Black Lives and Culture at Bucknell.

Carmen’s scholarship focused on Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and various aspects of American and Caribbean literature and culture. She published three award-winning books of poetry and received several prestigious fellowships for her writing.

A warm, kind, and beloved presence, Carmen enjoyed hosting her large circle of devoted friends and family at her beautiful home and garden.


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