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At age 90, Earl J. Wilcox never expected to be publishing a collection of poetry. And yet, since he retired nearly 23 years ago after a long and fruitful career as an educator and scholar at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC, Wilcox has been observing the world around him as only a poet can, with a keen eye for the odd image and the metaphors that help us make sense of the world.


In The Surfacing of Joy, Earl J. Wilcox’s compelling and poignant debut, Wilcox revels in the seasons of a life well-lived, exploring his relationship to the world around him from his perspective as an educator and scholar as well as a husband, father, grandfather, and friend to many. These poems ponder the arduous and life-giving work of, as Wilcox puts it, the constant, “making and hearing and seeing / And surfacing of joy.” These poems invite us to evaluate our sense of place in the world and our relationship to nature. These poems teach us how to listen, how to laugh, sometimes to cry, and other times to swoon when we are “overcome with joy at seeing / acres upon acres / of cosmos blooming / in the medians / and roadsides.” It is through Wilcox’s deft poetic voice that we are carried through his own experiences of joy and pleasure, loss and grief — and in the end we find that these have been our experiences as well and that the joy of life often comes in the living of it alongside others. This debut collection is a testament to the enduring power of poetry to inspire, uplift, and connect.

The Surfacing of Joy

  • Additional Information

    Paperback, 6x9

    144 pages

    Released August 2023

  • About the Author

    Earl J. Wilcox, born in 1933, writes poems about birds, baseball, famous writers, movie stars, and current events. He is the founding editor of the Robert Frost Review and a retired but longtime professor and faculty member at Winthrop University. His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has recently appeared in numerous print and online magazines. The Surfacing of Joy is his first collection of poetry. He lives in Rock Hill, SC and writes poetry every day.

  • About the Cover

    The cover image, “Untitled [698],” and rear images, “Untitled [753]” & “Untitled [720],” are photography-based mixed media works from the series STUDIO by Rob McDonald, in association with Anzenberger Gallery, Vienna, Austria.  (

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