Negro Mountain


A cross-genre poetry collection that troubles the idea of poetic voice while considering history, biology, the shamanistic, and the shapes of racial memory.

In the final section of Negro Mountain, C. S. Giscombe writes, “Negro Mountain—the summit of which is the highest point in Pennsylvania—is a default, a way among others to think about the Commonwealth.” Named for an “incident” in which a Black man was killed while fighting on the side of white enslavers against Indigenous peoples in the eighteenth century, this mountain has a shadow presence throughout this collection; it appears, often indirectly, in accounts of visions, reimaginings of geography, testimonies about the “natural” world, and speculations and observations about race, sexuality, and monstrosity. These poems address location, but Giscombe—who worked for ten years in central Pennsylvania—understands location to be a practice, the continual “action of situating.”

The book weaves through the ranges of thinking that poetic voice itself might trouble. Addressing a gallery of figures, Giscombe probes their impurities and ambivalences as a way of examining what languages “count” or “don’t count” as poetry. Here, he finds that the idea of poetry is visionary, but also investigatory and exploratory.

(from University of Chicago Press) 

Publication date: 
October 15, 2023
Publication type: