It is with great sadness that we here at Stillhouse Press mourn the loss of poet and professor Carmen Gillespie.
We are proud to have had the opportunity to publish Carmen’s final collection of poetry, The Ghosts of Monticello: A Recitatif, which was selected for the 2016 Stillhouse Press Prize for Poetry by guest judge, Kyle Dargan. In probing the relationship between the half-sisters, Martha Wayles Jefferson and Sally Hemings, the collection was an example of Carmen’s lifelong dedication to her own craft as a poet, as well as to lifting up the voices of marginalized women, especially those of the African diaspora. Unfortunately, Carmen passed in the same year as one of her own heroes and a subject of much of her scholarship, Toni Morrison. The subtitle, “A Recitatif,” is an allusion to Morrison’s well-known short story of the same title, meant to provide a frame of reference for the intercultural dialogue that The Ghosts of Monticello explores and aims to inspire.
In working closely with Carmen, we found her intense, intelligent, and insistent in all the best ways. She was a passionate writer, teacher and mother. The vision and compassion that she brought to her work and to the world will be sorely missed.
Read Carmen’s obituary here.