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Carolyn Hembree

English and Theatre '95

Carolyn HembreeCarolyn Hembree's debut collection, Skinny, was published by Kore Press in 2012. Individual poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Gulf Coast, jubilat, Puerto del Sol, and Verse Daily, among other journals and anthologies. Her poetry has received a PEN Writers Grant, a Southern Arts Federation Grant, and a Louisiana Division of the Arts Fellowship Award in Literature. Her manuscript Rigging a Chevy into a Time Machine & Other Ways to Escape a Plague was a 2012 finalist for the Tupelo Press and Switchback Books competitions.

SkinnyCarolyn studied English and creative writing with Professor Sprayberry and acting with Professor Litsey. Following her graduation from 'Southern, Carolyn moved to New York by way of Greenville, South Carolina. During these lean years, she found employment as a cashier, house cleaner, cosmetics consultant, telecommunicator, actor, receptionist, paralegal, and freelance writer. On a train ride from Emily Dickinson's Amherst, she decided to pursue the vocation of poetry writing.

Carolyn received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. During her time in the desert, she studied with poets Jon Anderson, Barbara Cully, Jane Miller, and Steve Orlen.

She teaches at the University of New Orleans and serves as Poetry Editor of Bayou Magazine.

The title character of Skinny leaves the South and a beloved, dying matriarch for New York City, a "far-off island dream." Through an expansive dramatis personae, the poems offer polyphonic responses to harrowing encounters. Here is a life at once immediate and recognizable yet imbued with nostalgia: silent film intertitles, biplanes transmissions, the broken Welsh of ancestors. The book incorporates ekphrastic pieces, prose poems, dramatic monologues, odes, elegies, a pastoral, and a word problem, among other free verse experiments. Despite familiar allusions and forms, the collection is otherworldly. Regionalisms of the Deep South combine with the idiolect of a particular family to form a grammar as fractured as the landscape it describes.