Teri Ellen Cross Davis

Teri Ellen Cross Davis (Poetry) | Silver Spring, MD

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Teri Ellen Cross Davis is a Cave Canem fellow, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and has attended the Soul Mountain Writer’s Retreat, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her work can be read in: Bum Rush The Page: A Def Poetry Jam, Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade, Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC; and the following journals: Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Gargoyle, Natural Bridge, Torch, Poet Lore and The North American Review. Her first collection Haint is published by Gival Press. Recently she has read on WAMU 88.5 The Kojo Nnamdi Show and at the Hay Festival Kells in Ireland. She lives in Silver Spring, MD. More can be read about Teri at www.poetsandparents.com.


Haint (Gival Press, 2016). Poetry.

Blurbs, Press & Reviews

”A haint is a term for the dead, but in Teri Cross Davis’ hands, Haint is a book of life. Not a book of survival, though the poet survives, not a book of reckoning, though the poet comes to terms with many things. Haint is a book of choices, and witnessing. A book of learning the bodies, territories, pleasures and sorrows. A book that constructs the irrepressible center of a soul, page by page, plank by plank. A book a reader will put down after reading and mutter yes to themselves, haunted.”
—Cornelius Eady, Miller Family Chair, The University of Missouri

“Science tells us that skin is our largest organ. Poet Teri Cross Davis reminds us that skin is both collective history and individual testimony—a maze, a frustration, a celebration. Her extraordinary debut, Haint, asks us to consider every consequence of the female form, from the quiet ecstasies of Morning Ritual to the methodical way a woman cuts an apple for her dying father-in-law; pulling no punches, an Ode to Now ‘n’ Laters is chased with a wrenching consideration of pre-teen pregnancy. Davis is a master of shifting dictions to surprise. In Odalisque, we venture the perspective not of the central white nude, but of the black maid forced to stand naked behind her: ‘You bleed like I bleed / but we ain’t friends.’ A few pages later, the sonnet Knell invites, ‘Haunt this empty space if you will.’ This collection, which hums and startles, will echo in the reader for months to come.”
—Sandra Beasley, author of I Was the Jukebox and Count the Waves

“Exploring the psychic interstices of coming-of-age, love, marriage, and motherhood, these meditations on desire, hunger, loss, birth, nurture, and violence raise questions and challenge assumptions about Black woman’s selfhood under the sign of haint. From the haunting past (ancestors showing in the resoluteness of skin and hair, or speaking from the margins of their eclipsed histories; the memory of parental discord literally marking the body; or, the negotiation of one’s sense of belonging, whether in Africa or Ohio) to the unrelenting present with its insistent hungers, the essential terrain here is the primal knowing (eros) of girls and women, and the particular valences, both tender and terrible, of such knowing. Teri Ellen Cross Davis conveys a grown woman’s hard-won wisdom, acknowledging the snares of seeking acceptance or understanding, much less abiding love, in a world where one might be rendered spectral, indecent, or crazy, even. Ultimately, the vulnerabilities, boldness, passion, and fears on display in this moving collection forge a new song of self-affirmation.”
—Sharan Strange, member, Dark Room Collective, and author of Ash and chapbook The Quotient of Injustice

“What Teri Ellen Cross Davis writes in her poem I’ll Be There is an apt description of the power and yearning this book is: ‘It’s a breaking heart’s last hope of reunion….’ Although heartbreak is the origin of so many of these poems, it’s love that makes them go. Love to which they plead and aspire and pray.“
—Ross Gay, 2016 Kingsley Tufts Prize, 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award, author of Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude

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