C. S. Giscombe was born in Dayton, Ohio. His poetry books are Prairie Style, Two Sections from Practical Geography, Giscome Road, Here, At Large, and Postcards; his prose book—about Canada—is Into and Out of Dislocation.Prairie Style was awarded an American Book Award by the Before Columbus Foundation; Giscome Road won the Carl Sandburg Prize, given by the Chicago Public Library. C. S. Giscombe's writing has also won him fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fund for Poetry, and the Canadian Embassy. He has worked as a taxi driver, as a hospital orderly, as a railroad brakeman, and for years edited a national literary magazine (Epoch, at Cornell University). His writing has appeared in several anthologies—the Best American Poetry series, the Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry, Telling It Slant: Avant-Garde Poetics of the 1990s, Bluesprint: Black British Columbia Literature and Orature, Lyrical Postmodernisms, etc. He is a long-distance cyclist. He teaches poetry at the University of California, Berkeley.
from Prairie Style
The Old Northwest
The dear old Northwest, laced up at the wrist like Frankenstein, and shambling like him too, the old Northwest. (The name applied to that monster, in those movies themselves he was nameless and unnamed; and he never spoke, he was truly simple. What was said later, say two big girls hulking around after you, that that was the name they looked like. And you the singular passion—a blunt argument—that ranged around the dear old Northwest.)
Some questions push or shove like they were magic or like they thought they were. The monster's based on something looking enough like anybody to be a reference—you see him when you fear yourself and give him ways to talk, what he'd say if he could pick up a horn and have something to say; or make up stories and tell them in his voice because voice comes to that, voice goes to that.
You said, "the transition is happiness." I'd wanted to drive out to the end of the continent and I have. Erotic certainty might be the way to a city at the border—an irreversible value, the shape of essay and desolation. How complete does the transition need to be? The joke I was always trying to tell wasn't really about Canada but about the "extent of overlapping." It's been mackerel skies all day. As you know, I'm still a nature boy. Looking back I wanted—I want—to equal the whole prairie.
for Barry McKinnon