Sheila Black

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Black at the 2017 Texas Book Festival.

Sheila Black, an American poet, has written over 40 books for children and young adults as well as four poetry collections. She was a 2000: U.S. co-winner of the Frost-Pellicer Frontera Prize, and a 2012 Witter Bynner Fellowship.[1]


She graduated from Barnard College and received her master's degree from the University of Montana.[2] . Teaching part-time at New Mexico State University and also working as Development Director for the Colonias Development Council, Sheila Black continues to write poetry, recently becoming co-editor of Beauty Is A Verb: The New Poetry of Disability with Jennifer Bartlett and Mike Northen. Sheila Black was diagnosed with XLH, commonly referred to as Vitamin-D Resistant Rickets,[3] at a young age. Black continues to advocate for equal rights for persons with disabilities. She has three children and lives with her husband in Texas.


Confessional poetry[edit]

In her poems, Sheila Black writes in a confessional style, often referencing past conflicts that resulted from her diagnosis of XLH, such as in her poem What You Mourn.[4] According to Sheila Black,

“As a poet, a storyteller, I am attracted to the unruly and confrontational elements of the confessional, to the ways it complicates personal truth through a presentation that makes the audience continually question whether the speaker is to be trusted”[5]


  • On Love/Iraq:

Sheila Black's poems are heavy and yet porous, racing toward transcendence and then slowing down to whisper a telling detail[6]

Perhaps the broad message of Love/Iraq can be understood simply by taking its title at face value. There is a borderline—a slash—between two wholly different states (one a political state, the other a state of being). The concept can be viewed as a face in stark relief, with one half shadowed black and the other white: the yin and the yang. It’s this balance that characterizes the experience of reading Love/Iraq, as the collection offers a narrative circularity, along with the seamless interweaving of the ethereal and the concrete. Sheila Black’s poems are heavy yet porous, racing toward transcendence then slowing down to convey a telling detail.[7]

  • On House of Bone:

In How to Be a Maquiladora, Sheila Black demonstrated her gift for using details to create images that evoke the life and environment of a specific locale. In House of Bone, her first major collection of poetry, Black paints with a much broader stroke. Not only does House of Bone, cover a much wider range of topics and experiences, but the particularities that she describe also seem to begrudgingly conceal the universal in the particular. This collection is also a much more personal book. While individual poems in Maquiladora, such as "Desert Life," remind the reader that the poet was no mere observer but a part of that environment about which she wrote, in House of Bone, Black's own experiences provide the grist for the poems.[8]

Selected works[edit]

Poetry collections[edit]

  • House of Bone. CW Press. Poems.; Wordtech Communications, 2007, ISBN 9781933456621
  • Love/Iraq. CW Press. Poems.; WordTech Communications, 2009, ISBN 9781934999752
  • Wen Kroy,, Dream Horse Press, 2014, ISBN 9781935716266
  • Iron/Ardent, Educe Press, 2017, ISBN 978-0996571647
  • Radium Dream, Salmon Poetry, 2022, ISBN 9781915022110

Poetry collections, collaborative[edit]

  • Continental Drift, with Michelle Marcoux. Patriothall, Edinburgh, UK. Poems, Paintings.

Poetry collections, co-editor[edit]

Children's books[edit]


  1. ^ "Poet Laureate Chooses L.S. Asekoff and Sheila Black for Witter Bynner Award and Reading, April 5". Library of Congress.
  2. ^ "Sheila Black, Blackbird".
  3. ^ "Home".
  4. ^ "Wordgathering: Black". Archived from the original on 2010-04-26.
  5. ^ Black, Sheila. "Waiting to Be Dangerous: Disability and Confessionalism." Beauty Is A Verb: The New Poetry of Disability. Ed. Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black, & Michael Northen. El Paso, TX: Cinco Puntos Press, 2011. pp. 208. Print.
  6. ^ "The Title Says It All". Vastano, Joe E. Book Review. Web.
  7. ^ Love/Iraq. Front Porch Journal. Book Review. Web.
  8. ^ "Black Review". Wordgathering. Book Review. Web.

External links[edit]