Alice Osborn Award judge

Our judge for the Alice Osborn Award (poems written by adults for children) is Carolyn Guinzio, from Arkansas. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Agni, Harvard Review, Boston Review, Bomb, and many other journals. She served as text editor for the online project YEW: A Journal of Innovative Writing & Images By Women.

Asked about what she does when her well of creativity runs dry, she offers this:

To cure a well run dry, or writer’s block, I always think it’s best simply to enjoy a period of not writing, to look up at something else, and to wait. Spend your writing time outside if you can. Spend it reading. Get enough sleep, and try not to worry. A bit of pushing through it doesn’t hurt: If you want to be writing, or you need to be writing, just write something down without worrying if it progresses a particular project. Keep up the habit of writing, even it it’s little more than a physical act.

She shares the following poem with us:

Swedish Fish

I ran over a shadow,
and the car went bump.
In the back, the kid
was worrying his sweet
tooth with the tip
of his tongue.
What he wanted
was to catch me
in a generous mood.
He saw all the signs:
“Vote Yes,” “Speed Table,”
“No Exit,” and he mumbled
with disgruntled syncopation,
as in sazzifrazzin laws
and laws, the dark
graphics standing
between us and the wildness
we shed to get through.
What he wanted
was to stay
in the shadow of the fish
crow, hooking
left where they let
down the guard-
rail, to crash
through the sage-
brush and angry
old trees that wait
to be thrown
into relief.
Oh, there are Great
rules I want
him to keep,
so I broke the little
red fish into halves
and sent them flying
into the back
when he opened his mouth
to speak.

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