Berkeley English Faculty

Cecil S. Giscombe

Cecil S. Giscombe

Professor and Robert Hass Chair in English

Wheeler Hall, room 417
Office Hours on Zoom are 2-5 Wednesdays. Other times by appointment. Text 814-571-0429 for a Zoom invitation.


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Similarly—four complete poetry books and a selection of new poems and sequences— samples the ongoing project of C. S. Giscombe’s long, long song of location and range. In all the work collected here, location is a practice; range is the fact of the s....(read more)

Ohio Railroads
Ohio Railroads

Ohio Railroads is a long poem—in essay form—with origins in the author’s memory of a dream of his hometown of Dayton, Ohio.  Ohio Railroads is an attempt to explore the particular weight of the dream and, in so doing, account for some of the measurem....(read more)

Prairie Style
Prairie Style

Prairie Style is about the breakdown of location and voice. It lays out a landscape of habitations (Frank Lloyd Wright's designs for "servantless families," fox dens in an embankment, the two-mile long face of Chicago's Robert Taylor public housing ....(read more)


Selected Publications and Papers Delivered

Forthcoming book--2020, Dalkey Archive Press--is Similarly, four poetry volumes and a selection of new poems.  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.


Current Research

Books in progress, as of August 2021, are "Negro Mountain" 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.)

English Department Classes