About Claire

Photo: Elisabeth Hogeman

With family roots in the American southeast, I grew up in Georgia, North Carolina, and overseas in Southeast Asia and Europe. I hold a doctorate in English literature from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and a bachelors in Philosophy from Yale University. An itinerant academic, after many years at the University of Virginia, I am now based in coastal Maine, instructing for the University of Maine and the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts.

My focus is feminist and decolonialist activist work which I express in writing. I am the editor of Enough! Poems of Protest and Resistance, winner of the 2021 Maine Literary Award. My eighth book of poems, Dolls, from 2Leaf Press (distributed by the University of Chicago Press) has been noted as a semifinalist for the PSV Poetry Book Award for North American Writers & Publishers. Dolls is a deep-dive meditation on gender violence and racism in the traditional South. The book is an extended elegy for Sage Smith, an African-American transwoman whose disappearance from Charlottesville in 2012 has never been solved. My newest books of poetry, Transitional Objects (Unicorn Press), and Elegiaca Americana (Littoral Books), are somber reflections on the materiality of loss and survival. Elegiaca Americana is a series of elegies, or poems of mourning, that move through the American landscape, charting a cartography of pain and hope in architectural and land-based motifs.

The thread uniting my work is a deep concern with those who are silenced and invisible in our culture. My work contends with homelessness, displacement, and with the economic, raced, and gendered causes of dispossession. From After Houses- Poetry for the Homeless and Motels Where We Lived (both published in 2014) to my most recent book of poems, Ransom Street (2019), I seek a way to give voice to those on the margins of our country. My scholarship likewise engages questions of racial violence, in Witnessing Sadism in Texts of the American South (2014), and economic injustice, in The Photographic Uncanny: Photography, Homelessness, and Homesickness (2020). My newest scholarly book Photography and Resistance: Anticolonialist Photography in the Americas (2022) deepens this research and theorization of disenfranchisement in political systems. I believe the written word can overturn patterns of dispossession and oppression. That is the star that I follow in writing every book. My poetry books have been recognized as finalists for the Maine Literary Award in Poetry, while my scholarship has been the recipient of an Excellent in Diversity Fellowship at the University of Virginia.”

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