Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Cecil S. Giscombe  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: Dayton, Ohio

-- Cecil S. Giscombe on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection


Biographical and Professional Information

Professor Giscombe has worked as a taxi driver, as a hospital orderly, as a railroad brakeman, and for years edited a national literary magazine (Epoch, at Cornell University). His writing has appeared in several anthologies—the Best American Poetry series, the Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry, Telling It Slant: Avant-Garde Poetics of the 1990s, Bluesprint: Black British Columbia Literature and Orature, Lyrical Postmodernisms, American Hybrid, etc.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

ISBN: 1564783383

Dalkey Archive Press. 2014

C. S. Giscombe's "Here" is a long, single poem that takes place in a progression of three settings, three unlikely locations: the edges of the urban south, the edges--just beyond and just within the city--of rural Ohio, and the places where upstate New York forms the border with Canada, "the next country." "Here" is racial in its knowledge and acknowledgment of the great geographic archetype, the journey north yet the work's nature denies the closure of destination. The poem's interest instead is in statement(s) of situation, in "the path traced by a moving point." First published by Dalkey Archive Press in 1994, now available again.

Giscome Road (American Literature (Dalkey Archive))
ISBN: 1564781844

Dalkey Archive Press. 1998

Concerned with specific locales in northern Canada named for the 19th-century Jamaican miner and explorer John Robert Giscome, the volume incorporates a variety of historical documents, maps, and dreams, to go "in & further in, " discovering and documenting music, racial dichotomies, sexuality, and the ways in which landscape itself is described.

Into and Out of Dislocation
ISBN: 0865475415

North Point Press. 2000

A thought-provoking meditation on the connections between landscape, race, and family

It was on his third or fourth trip there that the poet C. S. Giscombe grew aware of the space Canada had staked out in his imagination. Giscombe later spent a winter with his family in British Columbia, and his time there provides a lens through which he interrogates his preoccupation with Canada's otherness. Giscombe writes that "border crossings are always sexy. And racial." And so this book is filled with both actual and metaphoric exploration--and his travels serve as points of departure for a series of riffs on racial, national, physical, and psychological borders.

At the heart of this book is the author's ambivalent pursuit of John Robert Giscome, a man who may or may not be a relative. John R., as Giscombe calls him, was a black Jamaican explorer who flourished in British Columbia during the last half of the nineteenth century. Giscombe documents the places that John R. passed through, and he uncovers stories about mining, pioneer life, and even cannibalism. Giscombe likes to imagine John R. as a "self-aware outsider," and that status comes to seem more important--more interesting--than any historical truth.

Into and Out of Dislocation is an intriguing and wryly told travel memoir by a writer Henry Louis Gates called a "major figure in contemporary African American letters."


1998 Carl Sandburg Award Giscombe is the 2010 recipient of the Stephen Henderson Award in Poetry (given by the African American Literature and Culture Society)

. Prairie Style was awarded a 2008 American Book Award by the Before Columbus Foundation

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