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Southern Spaces
A journal about real and imagined spaces and places of the US South and their global connections

Insistent Traces

Virginia Commonwealth University
Published October 26, 2009


In a prose introduction and four poems, Claudia Emerson (1957–2014) returns to her native Pittsylvania County, Virginia, and to the traces of work, marriage, and residence, evoking lives lived here and voices "turning under my voice, as they broke and turned the earth."

"Insistent Traces" is part of the Poets in Place series, a Research Collaboration in the Humanities initiative funded through Emory University’s Presidential Woodruff Fund, in collaboration with the Office of the Provost. Series producers are Natasha Trethewey and Allen Tullos.


Claudia Emerson reads the untitled opening from Pinion: An Elegy. View poem text here.
Claudia Emerson reads the poem "Rent." View poem text here.
Claudia Emerson reads the poem "Aftermath." View poem text here.
Claudia Emerson reads the poem "My Grandmother's Plot in the Family Cemetery." View poem text here.
Claudia Emerson reads the poem "Old Elementary." View poem text here.

About Claudia Emerson

Claudia Emerson won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Late Wife. Her books include Figure Studies, Pinion, and Pharoah, Pharoah. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The New England Review, The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, TriQuarterly, and Crazyhorse. In 2008 Emerson was named Poet Laureate of Virginia. Her other honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Commission for the Arts. Born in Chatham, Virginia, Claudia Emerson is the Arrington Distinguished Chair in Poetry at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Cover Image Attribution:

View across a farm field in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, August 30, 2020. Photograph by Flickr user Kipp Teague. Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.