Tim Seibles

Acclaimed Poet
National Book Award Finalist
Virginia Poet Laureate

Readings & Lecture Topics

• An Evening with Tim Seibles


“Jazzily unpredictable” —Publishers Weekly 

“Tim Seibles is a poet of extraordinary sensitivity. His images are luminous–almost unbearably vivid–evocations of the world around us, past and present.” –Martin Espada

“Tim Seibles’ version of our changing and growing American speech range widely, from anguish to comedy, from transcendence to earthly bewilderment.”—Li-Young Lee 

Born in Philadelphia in 1955, Tim Seibles is the author of six collections of poetry, including his most recent, One Turn Around the Sun (Etruscan Press, 2017) and Fast Animal (2012), which won the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize, received the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award, and was nominated for a 2012 National Book Award. Other titles are Buffalo Head Solos (2004), Hammerlock (1999), Hurdy-Gurdy (1992), and Body Moves (1988).

Several questions drive the collection One Turn Around the Sun, the most central being how can a person stay sane when so often socio-political circumstances mock all efforts to create a livable world. Kwame Dawes says, “These are profoundly vulnerable poems that are distinguished by the risk and daring that we expect from our best poets. His alluring sensuality, and his splendid and welcoming humor will be wholly satisfied by this beautiful collection.” This book bolsters an ongoing engagement with life at a time when running away is a great temptation. Fast Animal is about the importance of remembering, the burden of race, and the meaning of true wakefulness. Publishers Weekly says, “Seibles’s refusal to sentimentalize family life or his own baser urges lends credibility to the more surreal rhetorical and metaphorical leaps, buoying the reader with him on history’s turbulent sea.”

Reflecting on writing, Seibles says, “I think poetry, if it’s going to be really engaging and engaged, has to be able to come at the issues of our lives from all kinds of angles and all kinds of ways: loudly and quietly, angrily and soothingly, with comedy and with dead seriousness. Our lives are worth every risk, every manner of approach.”

His poems has been published in the Indiana Review, Black Renaissance Noire, Cortland Review, Ploughshares Massachusetts Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and numerous other literary journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry. Seibles has received fellowships from both the Provincetown Fine Arts Center and The National Endowment for the Arts. He also won the Open Voice Award from the 63rd Street Y in New York City. On July 15, 2016, Seibles was named Poet Laureate of Virginia by Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Seibles lives in Norfolk, Virginia, where he is a member of the English Department and MFA in writing faculty of Old Dominion University. He is a teaching board member of the Muse Writers Workshop.


Tim Seibles is the author of six collections of poetry, including Body Moves (1988), Hurdy-Gurdy (1992), Hammerlock (1999), Buffalo Head Solos (2004), and Fast Animal (2012), which won the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize, received the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award, and was nominated for a 2012 National Book Award. His latest work of poetry, One Turn Around the Sun was published by Etruscan Press in 2017. His poems has been published in the Indiana Review, Black Renaissance Noire, Cortland Review, Ploughshares Massachusetts Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and numerous other literary journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry. Seibles lives and teaches at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.


ONE TURN AROUND THE SUN (2017)

“I’m tempted to say One Turn Around the Sun is Tim Seibles’ best book, but that’d be like saying Beethoven stopped at eight symphonies.” –Cornelius Eady

One Turn Around The Sun is a panorama of poems that attempt to define the twilight during which a person becomes caretaker of parents and begins to grind against that old saying, “Life is too short.”  The book also studies the intricacies of being a self, a particular personality shaped by forces seen and unseen, both knowable and not.  At times, the various voices might be considered characters that agree and sustain one perspective.  In other cases, contending sensibilities imply an underlying argument.  This is especially true of the book within the book, which is entitled “The Hilt.”Several questions drive this collection, the most central being how can a person stay sane when so often socio-political circumstances mock all efforts to create a livable world.  This is a book intended to bolster an ongoing engagement with life at a time when running away is a great temptation.

FAST ANIMAL (2012)
The collection from one of America’s foremost African-American poets threads the journey from youthful innocence to the whittled-hard awareness of adulthood. Along the way it immerses the reader in palpable moments―the importance of remembering, the burden of race, and the meaning of true wakefulness. Fast Animal explores a range of poetic form, including lyric, ode, narrative, and mystical. Like a “fast animal,” the poet’s voice can swiftly change direction and tone as he crisscrosses between present and past.


Read “Mosaic” by Tim Seibles – The Poetry Foundation

BLADE, UNPLUGGED

It’s true: I almost never
smile, but that doesn’t mean

I’m not in love: my heart
is that black violin
played slowly. You know that

moment late in the solo
when the voice
is so pure you feel
the blood in it: the wound

between rage
and complete surrender. That’s
where I’m smiling. You just
can’t see it—the sound

bleeding perfectly
inside me. The first time
I killed a vampire I was

sad: I mean
we were almost
family.

But that’s
so many lives
ago. I believe

in the cry that cuts
into the melody, the strings
calling back the forgotten world.

When I think of the madness
that has made me and the midnight
I walk inside—all day long:

when I think of that
one note that breaks
what’s left of what’s
human in me, man,

I love everything