This week, we are excited to offer a new poem by Cammy Thomas. Thomas’ first book of poems, Cathedral of Wish, received the 2006 Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. Both it and her second book, Inscriptions, are published by Four Way Books. A fellowship from the Ragdale Foundation helped her complete Inscriptions. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Appalachia, The Classical Outlook, The Maine Review, Off The Coast, Spillway, and Third Wednesday. Thomas grew up on Long Island and was educated primarily in California, writing her PhD dissertation at Berkeley on Tennyson’s poetry. A degree in poetry followed from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She lives in Lexington, Massachusetts, and teaches literature and creative writing at Concord Academy.
The incident I describe happened fifty years ago and has haunted me ever since. I think what finally enabled me to write about it was reading recent books by writers reflecting on their experiences of being black in America, books such as Citizen by Claudia Rankine and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehesi Coates. I began to wonder whether I could write honestly about my experience of being white in America. This poem is part of that project.
The Blues in My Heart, the Rhythm in My Soul