Berkeley English Faculty

Cecil S. Giscombe

Cecil S. Giscombe


Wheeler Hall, room 417
Fall 2020: Wednesdays 2:30 to 5:30, other times as well, all via Zoom. Text 814-571-0429 for a Zoom invitation.


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

Poetry books in progress, as of August 2019, are "Negro Mountain" and "Train Music."

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 "Train Music" project is a collaboration with the painter and collagist Judith Margolis.  The book is an account of the cross-country train trip (New York to Emeryville) we made together in 2017 and an inquiry into the social spaces of white supremacy. 

English Department Classes