Behind the Cello


Product Description

poems by 

Carol Pearce Bjorlie

Poetry book, 72 pages, $14 cover price

($11 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)

ISBN: 978-1-59948-375-7

Released: 2012

About The Author

CBjorlie_PxCarol Pearce Bjorlie

Carol Pearce Bjorlie, The Poet Behind the Cello, graduated from East Carolina University with a degree in Cello Performance. She has a MFA in Writing from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota and was a member of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra for twenty-eight years. She worked as an adjunct instructor of music at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls and was a Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. Her poetry and essays appear in Water~Stone, The Southern Poetry Review, and Great River Review. Her 2007 chapbook, Winter, is was written in response to playing cello on Abbott Northwestern Hospital’s Oncology Unit. Carol freelances and teaches cello in Asheville, NC, is a member of the Asheville Cello Choir, and teaches writing at the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement at the University of North Carolina in Asheville. Her motto, from a poem title by lucille clifton, is, “i am not done yet.”


“I am inside/singing my way out,” Carol Pearce Bjorlie writes in one of the poems in Behind the Cello, and this is the perfect description of what Bjorlie is up to in these poems which are not only inspired by music but rise to the condition of music themselves. There is humor here, and love in abundance in these poems; but what seems most deeply at the heart of their singing is an attentiveness which readers will come away from grateful to have encountered, and longing for more.

–Jim Moore,
author of Invisible Strings (Graywolf Press, 2011)


Carol Pearce Bjorlie loves music. She makes music, listens to music, and rejoices in the blessing of music. We fortunate readers of Behind the Cello, her first collection of poems, finish reading the book in love with these poems about music, about joy and family, about trees who give their lives for cellos and violins, in love with the voice of this poet. Bjorlie makes pieces of music come to life with her words; she ushers readers into the great mysteries of musical compositions with her spare and exact images. Carol Pearce Bjorlie comes out from behind the cello, and makes music with her poems. In these times, at any time, we are lucky to have this book full of reverence and love for music, poetry, and our world.

Deborah Keenan
author of Willow Room, Green Door:
New and Selected Poems (Milkweed Editions, 2007)


Carol Bjorlie’s poems recreate the joys of music so powerfully that she makes us want to run to our music collections or to the nearest music store or Amazon to find what we haven’t heard in awhile, or ever. A cellist who makes poetry with music and poetry celebrating the ecstasies of music, is a rare find. These poems take us in many directions, all of them lovely, insightful, transporting.

Susan Ludvigson
author of Sweet Confluence, (LSU Press, 2000)



I will find the sun and sit in it.
I will breathe in with a small smile
which Thich Naht Hahn claims is mastery of self,
and breathe out again,
the day and I dancing between words and music.



Here is the red-brown diva singing.
Here is the tree,
ripped, quartered,
left to age in the forest.

Here is the curve and flow of hips and waist,
the slender neck, slight belly,
silken back,
the grace of scroll.

Here is my hand
that slips along the neck
to tread the silver wires.

Here, the other hand
coaxes the breath in and out.


The last poem I read did it:
Brahms’ Capriccio in C Major, Opus 76 No. 8.
I don’t care if you think you are fat
or live on the prairie
or already have a woman
or if I already have a man.

I stood in the library,
read your book, and said, “Oh my God!”
and fell in love right there.

I fell in love with you, Bill Holm,
because you played Brahms in a melanoma ward,
because you lied to the sick redheaded boy who asked,
“Did it take you long to play so well?”

I fell in love with you, Bill Holm,
and said “Oh my God!” out loud
because of the last line of your poem:

Let everything sing together inside you,
lose nothing.



The bass player
of the Tangoland band
committed suicide.

There was a mattress on the floor in his apartment,
a CD player, hundreds of discs, a few Utne readers,
poetry by Stafford and Whitman.

He drank coffee
in the cafe two blocks down the street.
Sometimes he read the paper;
sometimes, not.
His girlfriend plays recorder.
Ava danced there and says
he and the bass
were two bears hugging.



If you would like to read more or Behind the Cello by Carol Pearce Bjorlie, order your copy today.

SKU: 978-1-59948-375-7 Category: Tag:


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