A Web Del Sol Featured Writer

Robert Hill Long

I was nine and at war, waist-deep in flames of broomstraw. Chinese soldiers dying in waves I imagined, sounded like the faint cries coming out of that cinderblock drabness.

Robert Hill Long was raised and educated in North Carolina. He was the founding director of the North Carolina Writers' Network in 1984. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1988) and the North Carolina Arts Council (1986), and has helped the National Writers' Union organize in North Carolina and western Massachusetts. He has taught at Clark University, Smith College, the University of Hartford, and currently teaches at the University of Oregon.

His first book, The Power to Die, was published by the Cleveland State University Poetry Center in 1987, and nominated for the William Carlos Williams Award and the San Francisco State University Poetry Center Award. The Work of the Bow received the 1995 Cleveland State University Poetry Center Prize, has since been nominated for several publication prizes, and will be published in November 1996. A book of flash fictions, The Effigies, will be issued by Plinth Books in late spring 1997. He is at work on a book of sonnets and sonnet stanzas & sequences (The Past Master); another collection of flash fictions and prose poems (Millennials); and on a memoir centered around the recent death of his father.

His poems, prose poems and flash fictions have appeared in anthologies--Best American Poetry 1995 (Touchstone), 1996 Anthology of Magazine Verse and Yearbook of American Poetry (Monitor Books), Flash Fiction (W.W. Norton), Drive, They Said (Milkweed Editions)--and in numerous journals across America, including Denver Quarterly, DoubleTake, High Plains Literary Review, Hudson Review, Iowa Review, The Kenyon Review, Manoa, Massachusetts Review, New England Review, Poetry, Poetry East, The Prose Poem: An International Journal, Puerto del Sol, Quarterly West,Seneca Review, Shenandoah, Southern Humanities Review, Southern Poetry Review, STAND (UK), Taos Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Willow Springs and ZYZZYVA.

Robert Hill Long, from Revival
Any sharecropper can give you half the history of the south in two verses of delta blues. The rest he hums, squatting to roll a cigarette in the shade of his mule. History is the yellowed newspapers that insulate his bedroom and livingroom and kitchen, which are the same room. Steak was 37 cents a pound, hamburger 24 cents--that's how the city talked about itself. Out here a string of fish cost a handful of worms and a dozen mosquito bites. A good pointing dog could fill his coat pockets with quail. He had a bush full of hen-eggs, two hogs a year, all the work he could bear. Saturday night blues, Sunday gospel . . . Hitler? bad news far away. He'll tell you his overseer was worse because he was mean right here, daylight to dark, every day. The man wore yellow riding pants though he drove the property in a no-door truck; kept a pencil-lead mustache, hated getting dirty. His jowls swelled red and purple when black men talked back, when they threw down cotton sacks to catch a freight to Chicago. The week of the A.M.E. Zion revival he drove off the levee. When his drowning was confirmed the revivalists started a slow spiritual, but as it speeded up there was no hiding what all the clapping was for. Even the catfish and hushpuppies tasted better that night.

Poetry and Flash Fictions from Robert Hill Long:

Acknowledgments are included here. Many of the following are included in a superb book of poems entitled, Work of the Bow.

Poetry, Part 1
Poetry, Part 2
The Coral Sea
The Past
Lucky Tobies
The Restraints

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