Emily Grosholz
March 2001

 

Emily Grosholz was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. She attended the University of Chicago, where she received her B.A. in 1972, and Yale University, where she received her Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1978. She has traveled widely in Italy and Greece, and lived in Germany, France, and England. Professor of Philosophy and African American Studies and Fellow of the Institute for the Arts and Humanistic Studies at the Pennsylvania State University, and Life Member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, she is married to the medievalist and soccer coach Robert R. Edwards. They have four children, Benjamin, Robert, William Jules-Yves, and Mary-Frances.

Emily Grosholz has published four books of poetry: The Abacus of Years (David R. Godine Publisher, Inc., 2001), Eden (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), Shores and Headlands (Princeton University Press, 1988), and The River Painter (University of Illinois Press, 1984). She also edited Telling the Barn Swallow: Poets on the Poetry of Maxine Kumin (University Press of New England, 1997) and co-edited W. E. B. Du Bois on Race and Culture (Routledge, 1996) and is preparing a collection of essays on the legacy of Simone de Beauvoir. She is an Advisory Editor for The Hudson Review, one of America's most respected literary quarterlies. She has received grants for her poetry from the Guggenheim and the Ingram Merrill Foundations.

In an essay "The Loss of Innocence: Boundaries, Gardens, Voyages," forthcoming in Connecticut Review, Grosholz writes of the interlude that gave rise to the following suite of poems, written over a period of thirty years, at decade-intervals. "When I left home for the first time, my family was disintegrating: my mother was dying, my father was drinking, and even the physical fabric of our house was falling apart. My first encounter with the Mediterranean was then as alternative to home; it was beautiful and it could never threaten to be domestic, since I never had any intention of emigrating permanently. In the following decade, I fled to France, Italy and Greece as often as I could on a graduate student stipend, while the dissolution of my family became more and more final. The walls, the hedges, the shelter and seemliness came tumbling down. My house and half its furniture were sold; my mother's letters, papers, and jewelry were lost; my parents disappeared. With a child's guilt, I wondered if I were responsible for saving my family, but the situation seemed too hopeless, and I was young and resourceless, struggling to begin my own life. So I left it over and over.

"When I left my childhood home and fled to the Mediterranean, I believe I tried to make it an imaginative substitute for what I'd lost, without the fierce attachments and imperfections that had spoiled my first paradise. So my view of it was idealizing and purifying; my visits there were schematic and superficial. Poems like "Crescent Moon" and "Over the Abyss" in The River Painter and "Siesta" and "Mediterranean" in Shores and Headlands are exemplary of that aesthetic abstraction. Not surprisingly, that view, those visits, proved hollow in the long run, and "paradise" was disenchanted once more."

 

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