Cecilia Woloch is the author of three full-length collections of poetry : Sacrifice (Cahuenga Press, 1997), a BookSense 76 selection in 2001; Tsigan: The Gypsy Poem; (Cahuenga Press, 2002); Late (BOA Editions, 2003) for which she was named Georgia Author of the Year in Poetry in 2004 ­ and a chapbook, Narcissus, which was chosen winner of the Tupelo Press Snowbound Competition by Marie Howe and published by Tupelo in 2008. A new book-length collection of poems will be published by BOA Editions in 2009. Individual poems have been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2005, Billy Collins' 180 More (Extraordinary Poems for Every Day), Garrison Keillor's Good Poems for Hard Times, and The Best American Erotic Poems: 1800 to the Present, among others. In recent years, she has divided her time between Los Angeles and Idyllwild, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Shepherdsville, Kentucky; Paris, France; and a small village in the Carpathian mountains of southeastern Poland. She currently serves on the faculty of the B.A. program in Creative Writing at the University of Southern California, and is the founding director of Summer Poetry in Idyllwild, as well as the Paris Poetry Workshop. 

The founding director of Summer Poetry in Idyllwild and also of the Paris Poetry Workshop, Ms. Woloch has conducted workshops for thousands of children, young people and adults throughout the U.S. and Europe, in venues and institutions ranging from schools and museums to prisons and hospitals. She has served on the creative writing faculties of California State University at Northridge, The University of Redlands, New England College and Emory University. She is currently a lecturer in the creative writing program at the University of Southern California as well as a member of the core faculty of the low-residency MFA Program in Professional Writing at Western Connecticut State University. She has received fellowships from the California Arts Council, Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers, the Isaac W. Bernheim Foundation, CEC/ArtsLink International, and La Napoule Retreat for Artists in the south of France. She spends part of each year traveling and teaching in Europe.

Unofficially Cecilia tells us:
I drive a pick-up truck and can climb into and out of it in a cocktail dress and high heels. I can dance salsa and cha cha cha and speak fairly decent French. I'm learning Polish, finally. I can also fake it in a couple of other languages. I know maybe more than is healthy about Polish history, and Russian history since the revolution, and Poland under communism, and WWII and Stalin, and the history of the Roma (gypsy) people in Europe, but way less than any academic specializing in those things would (I hope) know. I'm an excellent parallel parker. Good navigator and map-reader. I have expertise in making complicated travel arrangements and in getting small children to laugh, if not getting them to go to sleep. I can ride a horse with a Western or English saddle. I can do splits, but not cartwheels. Double pirhouettes but not triple. My grammar skills have advanced to  the point that I know how and when to use the subjunctive. I can braid my hair with my eyes closed. I can explain the history  of English prosody using coconuts. I make perfect cup of coffee and a mean omelette, but that's the full extent of my culinary skills. I know the names of many wildflowers. Can still do "figures in my head" and balance my checkbook to the penny. I'm addicted to novels. I've never owned a television. I've taught creative writing to the criminally insane and line dancing to the elderly. I've crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border on foot in the company of smugglers and journalists. Have been robbed by a Russian gang in Warsaw and rescued by off-duty police in Paris. Can build a fire and bathe in a bucket. Can apply lipstick in a rearview mirror.  Also write poems and narrative non-fiction


I slept in a room filled with white moths.­ In a wooden house in the lower Carpathians ­Beskid Niski ­ each silvery night. I made my bed in the room’s far corner, white moths settling like quiet petals on every surface as evening fell. They folded their wings and clung to the walls without a quiver as I undressed. I knew, as soon as I switched off the lamp, that the air would go pale with their fluttering. I knew, in my sleep, one might light on my arm, on my cheek, in my hair, without waking me. In this room, also, the seeds of wildflowers gleaned from the meadows were spread out to dry. What I learned about gentleness then. What I learned to be gently less wary of. I want not to forget those nights in the lower Carpathians, deep spring, sleeping alone: the white moths swirling as I dreamt; the meadows baring themselves to the moon.

(first published in roger, spring 2006)



"This is no dark custom" ­ Gertrude Stein

Some days you wake up and find god in your shoes and you don't know who put it there. Or the little gold clocks in your irises, or the long stems of sun on your desk. So you just dress in coffee and beautiful rags and be glad of it, ashes and all. And you hum to yourself some ridiculous tune that sounds like a handkerchief stuffed in your mouth. Which means that you won't get a single thing done, oh no not today, but your papers don't mind. They lie around like wanton brides and admire you anyway. Fat apples blossom in baskets left on your table; wine turns into wine. And the windows, my god the windows have gathered absurd amounts of sky. If the shoe fits, the foot must be mine. Someone who loves you dreamed double last night.

(from LATE, BOA Editions, Ltd. 2003)



We clean the bones of the little birds we eat
with our teeth, then we let them dry.
Later, we split each wish at the crux ­
Many of dollars for both of us.

But love, we are vagabonds still,
our sleep full of bells and kisses, wind.
We have never touched one another enough.
We have never completely eaten our fill.

If I covered your body in lilacs now,
pale purple flowers against your dark skin,
would you not shake my breath from your hair
when you stood, would you wish

that the small birds who fed us had lived?

(first published in Black Rock & Sage, Spring 2005

(for my grandniece, Paige, at four)

I woke up dreaming my mother's garden ­
fields in autumn, green turning gold,
grasses scythed down in the late, dark sun;
and here will be corn, she was saying, tomatoes,
flowers I never knew she loved.

I woke to a child climbing into my bed
­ girl of a girl of my sister's son ­
hair like silk and the color of wheat
falling into her eyes, begging me to get up.

And in my mother's kitchen the strong light smelled of coffee
and autumn, in fact. In fact, my mother,
who hasn't gardened in twenty years, was taking a bath.
I heard her splashing through the walls. It was October;
the child came forward, one fresh egg cupped in her palm.

I woke up dreaming the harrowed fields,
sharp with stubble, my mother's lands.
She was already preparing for spring; she was already
stepping naked from the bath, away from grief ­

a widow with work to do, weeds in the yard,
and the child calling softly to me, come on, come on, come on.

(from LATE, BOA Editions, Ltd. 2003)

Cecilia Woloch Moonday poetry reading

© 2006 Cecilia Woloch

  MOONDAY HOME PAGE (Current Features)  
MOONDAY (Previous Features)  
                             MOONDAY (Upcoming Features)