A lyrical journey through history and memory so beautiful that at times it belies the deep pain it represents. Woloch takes us through fragments of memory that give glimpses into a life-long struggle with a hidden identity. Before I read Tsigan: The Gypsy Poem, I knew what had happened to Gypsies across the ages —I knew the detail of their persecution under the Nazis; their gassing at Auschwitz—but now I understand it completely differently. Now I feel it as if I had lived it. Poetry so tender allows one to be led by the hand through an anguished and otherwise unapproachable world with dignity and love.
— Stephen D. Smith, Executive Director, USC Shoah Foundation Institute
“I read and re-read it with admiration, indeed, but with gratitude for the realization, the authenticity of its wandering fire. What depth and scope you give to the very image of Tsigan, the Gypsy, until you have it become the spirit itself.”
— Poet W.S. Merwin, in a letter to Cecilia Woloch
“I can’t think of anyone who writes like Cecilia Woloch. In Tsigan: The Gypsy Poem, she reinvents herself as a Gypsy fire of language, a “single word” set flaming as a daring, dancing, lyric conflagration in the reader’s hand.”
— Carol Muske-Dukes
To view a clip from the presentation of Tsigan: The Gypsy Poem at the University of Southern California in 2013, as part of its Visions and Voices Initiative, in cooperation with the Shoah Foundation Archives, click here
To view clip from the presentation at POLIN (The Museum of the History of Polish Jews) in Warsaw in 2015, as part of the museum’s commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, click here.
Winner of the 2014 Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize (judged by Aimee Nezhukumatathil), Earth is the sixth book by poet Cecilia Woloch.
Praise for Earth:
In Earth, Cecilia Woloch writes with the wonder and resilience that are essential, not only to empathy, but to transformation. Woloch weds us to the natural world through language that is both straightforward and particular. A “river’s lifting dress” comes to represent history; branches swaying “like the arms of a woman waving goodbye” come to represent mortality. These remarkable poems are hymns and requiems; they are made of "blood mixed with earth." —Terrance Hayes
These poems reflect a mature writer, a woman unflinching in both love and craft. The love is unabashed; the language boldly lyrical and image-rich. As a devoted reader of Cecilia Woloch's writing, I relish anything she offers, so I welcome Earth, this book of passionate, vigorous poetry, in which grandeur of spirit always redeems sorrow. As Woloch writes in the gorgeous prose poem "Afterlife": "I want to be fierce and joyful and a meadow when I'm dead." May we all be meadows with you, Dear Poet. —Holly Prado
These poems gel together beautifully with a musical sense of foreboding and epiphany inhabiting the lines. These pages give us a terrain where a "honey of birdcall in our mouth" seems equally at place with a landscape populated with a willow that leaves the speaker "half afraid that the tree would fly." I want to return to Earth again and again. —Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Well-controlled eulogies to her dying father in rural Kentucky, lush lyric and prose poems to lovers and former-lovers in Paris and various Eastern European countries, and compelling anaphoric-based narratives that meander between innocence and experience, body and soul – these are the motifs in Cecilia Woloch's stirring, new collection, Carpathia. Cecilia is, first and foremost, a relentless traveler (and watcher) of the human condition. Her poems risk the heart, teach and delight, and remind us that we won't leave this earth without our share of love and weeping.What reviewer Willaim Neumire said of her last collection Late, is true of Carpathia: “This collection has a little piece of pleasure for everyone. There are some lyrics in the purest, song-like sense, and there are some lyrical prose-poems that succeed on a more narrative level. This book is a grab-bag of good poems, and each page is a surprise.”
“Carpathia seems to me the truest, fullest expression of a soul in quest of its true home I’ve yet read. Cecilia Woloch receives the world right on her skin, responds to it with her whole physical being, and fearlessly, in all its mystery and beauty, and also in its sadness and cruelty and disappointment. There’s a headlong, rushing quality here, but a great sensual leisure, as well. It’s a wonderful book.” —Mary Ann Taylor-Hall
“This is a gorgeous book by a poet who is passionately alive in the world.” —Natasha Trethewey
Winner of the Snowbound Series Chapbook Award, selected by Marie Howe
Prose poems alternate with brief lyrics to describe a narrative arc of failed and renewed romantic love—a turning inward, turning outward again, and no turning back, even in the face of loss.
Like the narcissus flower—delicate petals that bloom from a poisonous bulb, a flower named for the Greek myth of the youth who falls in love with his own reflection—the poems offer a sense of both beauty and danger. The danger of love and of love's beautiful illusions, and the beauty that's revealed after those illusions have been stripped away and what remains is the shimmer beneath the shimmering reflection, some deeper shine. Here, the meadows bare themselves to the moon, the new beloved steps out of the shadows, one enters "into a new love as into a mirror," and the mirror turns to rain.
“This beautifully produced winner of the Tupelo Snowbound Chapbook series (2007) is at once delicate and ferocious…The primarily lyric poems are laced with stunning images (of desire, of loss) that sear….There is a careful attention to the music in poems that are quietly formal and sound is primary. Woloch also manages the sense of line in prose poems — which constitute nearly a third of the book — inhabiting that mode fluidly, transendently.” —Lynnell Edwards
Late is driven by the alternating energies of prose poems and free verse. Woloch understands a person’s true relationships with family, friends and lovers arrive late–if at all. The exquisite pathos in these poems disclose Woloch’s abiding empathy for family, children, ex-lovers and strangers.
“Cecilia Woloch’s voice is both intense and precise. In so many of these poems, the forces of memory and longing are expertly brought under the sweet governance of craft and form.” — Billy Collins
Cahuenga Press, 2002
Cover Illustration by Jonde Northcutt
Temporarily out of print.
Tsigan is a book-length poetic meditation that intertwines the author’s personal journey of identity with the larger forces in the world that have shaped the Roma people’s fate and fortunes.
“Upon the blank page of her grandmother’s, and every gypsy’s, death, Cecilia Woloch writes her own story. Haunted. Unsettled. Gorgeously so.” —Ralph Angel
Tzigane: Le Poeme Gitan
a translation of Cecilia Woloch's Tsigan, by Jennifer Bocquenti
Poème-fleuve ponctué d'éléments historiques Tzigane, le poème gitanmet en scène une quête personnelle d'origines -Rrom- à travers l'Europe et son histoire.
La poétesse évoque sa grand- mère paternelle : une mystérieuse figure qui s’appelait«Tsiganka », née au début du siècle dernier dans un village des Carpates où les Gitans, Juifs et Ruthéniens avaient vécu ensemble durant plusieurs générations. Mariée de force à douze ans, elle a pu s’échapper vers l’Amérique où elle s’est impliquée dans de mouvements politiques « underground » pour la défense des droits des ouvriers, puis dans le parti communiste des Usa. Remariée, mère de nombreuses enfants dont un fils qui, soldat, fut tué au front contre l’Allemagne nazi pendant la deuxième guerre mondiale, un autre qui fut résistant en France, cette grand- mère que la poétesse n'a pas connue, a vécu une vie pleine d'aventures, de bonheurs et de souffrances. Elle a disparu (assassinée ?) lors de la guerre froide. Sa vie et sa mort ainsi que l'histoire - et l'actualité - du peuple Rrom hantent la poétesse américaine Cecilia Wolochqui signe une élégie moderne et universelle. La dimension narrative de son écriture et son caractère d'urgence lui donnent puissance et unité.
Anastassia Politi - Metteur en scène - Compagnie Erinna
Sacrifice is hailed by poet-critic David St. John as “an extraordinary debut . . . The exquisite sensuality of these poems is matched only by [their] heart-breaking delicacy . . . Cecilia Woloch’s poems unveil the wreckage of love after what has been sacramental turns sacrificial . . . they are prayers spoken to, and on behalf of, a difficult world.”
Cecilia Woloch's Sur la Route is a novel in postcard-like vignettes — a series of brief, vivid, poetic episodes that trace the path of a disaffected American woman “on the road” in France and western Europe.
By turns sexy, intriguing, and passionate, her experiences require her to open her heart as widely as possible, even (and always) at the risk of breaking it.
"Every luscious word in Woloch's novella counts. The 224 vignettes, described as "vivid, poetic episodes," are so much more than that. It's about discovering Paris and all it has to offer, from the people who inhabit it to the inner beauty of the city that is like no other, to what Woloch was experiencing from the inside. The prose will open your heart as she has opened hers and as she opened mine." - Adrian Leeds