A Poet Who Literally Sees Things Differently: Meet Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Dec 10, 2018

Gabrielle Calvocoressi was born with nystagmus, a visual condition where the eyes are constantly in spasm. It took Calvocoressi a while to learn how to walk and balance, so the young child spent a lot of time sitting on the floor, daydreaming and observing the world. 

These keen observations later became fodder for Calvocoressi’s writing. Calvocoressi had always been a reader but turned to writing more seriously at the age of 13 when Calvocoressi’s mother committed suicide. Throughout high school and college the writer’s passion for poetry, in particular, only continued to grow, and Calvocoressi went on to get an MFA in poetry from Columbia University.

Calvocoressi has now authored three well-received books of poetry, which explore loss, loneliness, perception, sexuality, and the body, among other topics. Calvocoressi is the senior poetry editor for The Los Angeles Review of Books and the Walker Percy Fellow in Poetry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Host Frank Stasio delves into the life story of Gabrielle Calvocoressi, professor in the English department at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Note: Throughout the conversation, The State of Things refers to Calvocoressi without using gender pronouns per the guest’s request and as part of Calvocoressi’s experiment to create a genderless literary world. This conversation originally aired in December 2017.