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Forest Primeval: Poems

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Winner, 2017 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award
Winner, 2016 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in the Poetry category
Finalist, 2015 Balcones Poetry Prize
Shortlist finalist, 2015 PEN Open Book Award for an exceptional book by an author of color

"Another Anti-Pastoral," the opening poem of Forest Primeval, confesses that sometimes "words fail." With a "bleat in [her] throat," the poet identifies with the voiceless and wild things in the composed, imposed peace of the Romantic poets with whom she is in dialogue. Vievee Francis’s poems engage many of the same concerns as her poetic predecessors—faith in a secular age, the city and nature, aging, and beauty. Words certainly do not fail as Francis sets off into the wild world promised in the title. The wild here is not chaotic but rather free and finely attuned to its surroundings. The reader who joins her will emerge sensitized and changed by the enduring power of her work.

ISBN-13: 9780810132436

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Northwestern University Press

Publication Date: 11-30-2015

Pages: 104

Product Dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.50(d)

Longlist finalist, 2015 PEN Open Book Award, for an exceptional book by an author of color VIEVEE FRANCIS is author of Horse in the Dark (2012), winner of the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry 2010 and Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry. She was the recipient of the 2009 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and the 2010 Kresge Artist Fellowship. A Cave Canem Fellow, she is currently an associate editor for Callaloo.

Table of Contents

Another Antipastoral 3

White Mountain 5


Happy? 9

Altruism 11

Cracks along the Outer Banks 12

Emancipation 13

Taking It 14

A Flight of Swiftlets Made Their Way In 16

The Accountant 17

Approaching Fifty 18

Shall We Gather & What 19

Like Jesus to the Crows 21

Fallen 22

Keys 24

Skinned 26

Salt 28

Epicurean 30

How Delicious to Say It 31


The Ledge 35

Imprint 40

Visiting the House on Long Island 41

Cake Baby 42

Break 43

Circe after the Feast of Kine 44

WaterFire 45


A Song on the Ridge 49


All the Fuss over a Rose… 53

Wolf 55

Lightnin' Over Fir 58

Bluster 59

Grasp 61

Seen Through 62


Paradise 65

Tintype 66

She Whose Brothers Turned to Swans Pleads Her Case 68

Still Life with Dead Game 69

The Old Master 70

On the Last Day 71

Inevitability 72

One to Another 73

Apologia 74

Nightjar 76

Her Mouth 77

Consider the Prince As He Considered Her Mouth 79

Having Never Told the Tarot Reader My Question, She Answers It 80

Gutted 81

Black River 82

Join 83


Flying over Pigeon River 87

All Kinds of Howlin' 88

Beast and Beauty 89

Husband Fair 90

A Small Poem 91

Chimera 92