Society & Culture

The Georgia Review and the Georgia Poetry Circuit present Cleopatra Mathis

Athens, Ga. – The Georgia Review and the Georgia Poetry Circuit will present a free, public reading by Cleopatra Mathis on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. at Bar/Café/Cinema (234 West Hancock Ave., Athens). Nicole Higgins, a University of Georgia M.F.A. student in creative writing, will be the opening reader.

The Georgia Poetry Circuit is a nine-member group of colleges and universities that supports statewide tours by nationally recognized poets. The Georgia Review, a quarterly journal of arts and letters founded at UGA in 1947 and published there ever since, has been the circuit’s Athens sponsor since the tour’s 1985 inception.

Mathis was born and reared in Ruston, La. Her first five books of poems, including Aerial View of Louisiana and The Bottom Land, were published by Sheep Meadow Press in New York City; her sixth, White Sea, came out from Sarabande Books of Louisville in 2005. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, among them The Georgia Review, The New Yorker, Poetry, The Southern Review,and The Extraordinary Tide: Poetry by American Women. Her honors and awards include two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the 2001 Jane Kenyon Award, the Academy of American Poets’ Peter Lavin Award, two Pushcart Prizes, the Robert Frost Resident Poet Award, and many more. Mathis is the Frederick Sessions Beebe Professor of the Art of Writing at Dartmouth College, where she has directed the creative writing program since 1982.

Nicole Higgins has been aCallalooand a Cave Canem fellow, and she holds an M.A.from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Some of her recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Moon City Review, Natural Bridge, and Passages North.

This event is the first of three Georgia Poetry Circuit readings scheduled at Cinéfor the 2010-11 academic year; the others will feature Rick Campbell (Jan. 24) and Brian Turner (April 1).

For more information, call The Georgia Review at 706/542-3481, or see

Cleopatra Mathis

Survival: A Guide

It’s not easy living here, waiting to be charmed

by the first little scribble of green. Even in May

the crows want to own the place, and the heron, old bent thing,

spends hours looking like graying bark,

part of a dead trunk lying over opaque water.

She strikes the pose so long I begin to worry

she’s determined to be something ordinary.

The small lakes continue their slide into bog and muck-

remember when they ran clear, an invisible spring

renewing the water? But the ducks stay longer, amusing

ruffle and chatter. I can be distracted.

If I do catch her move, the heron appears

to have no particular fear or hunger, her gaunt body

hinged haphazardly, a few gears unlocking

one wing, then another. More than a generation here

and every year more drab.

Once I called her blue heron, as in Great Blue,

true to a book-part myth, part childhood’s color.

Older now, I see her plain: a mere surviving

against a weedy bank with fox dens

and the ruthless, overhead patrol.

Some blind clockwork keeps her going.

(The Georgia Review, Spring 2009)