Cecil S. Giscombe

Professor and Robert Hass Chair in English
Current Research: 

Recent books are "Negro Mountain" (poetry, 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.)


Cecil S. Giscombe
Poetry, 2023
Cecil S. Giscombe
Poetry, 2022
Cecil S. Giscombe; Judith Margolis
Poetry, 2021
Cecil S. Giscombe
Poetry, 2014
Cecil S. Giscombe
Poetry, 2008

Selected Publications

Forthcoming books are Similarly ("new and selected" volume consisting of four complete poetry books and a selection of new poems, 2023, Dalkey Archive Press) and Negro Mountain (poetry, 2023, University of Chicago Press).  Most recent books are Ohio Railroads (2014, a long poem in the form of an essay, including maps), Border Towns (2016, essays having to do wth poetry) and Overlapping Apexes (2017, a long poem).  Earlier books include Prairie Style (2008), Into and Out of Dislocation (2000), Giscome Road (1998), etc.  Poetry and prose reprinted in Best American Poetry, Oxford Anthology of African American Poetry, Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry, Bluesprint: Black British Columbia Literature and Orature, and elsewhere.


Wheeler Hall, room 417

Spring 2024 Office Hours

Text 814-571-0429 to arrange an appointment.