The Victorious Poetry

It is my pleasure and honor to present the winning poems of the Pinesong Awards for 2021:

Poet Laureate Award
Preliminary Judge Taylor Byas
Final selection by Jaki Shelton Green
Winner:
Piecework by Susan Alff
Finalists:
The Children’s Section by Laura Alderson
Synagogue 1964 by Joanne Durham
Compost by Janet Ford
Garage by Maura High
Fruit by Jo Ann Hoffman
The Day After Christmas by Sandra Pope
Lessons In Applied Etymology by Celisa Steele
Orphaned by Andrew Taylor-Troutman
Standing at the Fence Staring into Cow Eyes Waiting for a Sign by Lucinda Trew

Alice Osborn Award
Judge Corrie Williamson
First Place:
A Bucket List for Spring by Shelly Reed Thieman
Second Place:
Flying Lesson by Nancy Swanson
Honorable Mention:
Cow Lullaby by Jeffery Beam
Suppose by Carmen Dressler Ward

Carol Bessent Hayman Poetry of Love Award
Judge Lindsay Rice
First Place:
Love in Black and White by Jenny Bates
Second Place:
Summoning My Grandmother in Dream by Margie Emshoff
Honorable Mention:
Milkshakes in May by Pam Baggett
Bowerbirds by Hilda Downer
Ruby and Darling. by Gary Phillips

Joanna Catherine Scott Award
Judge Leatha Kendrick
First Place:
Lost Poem by Mark Smith-Soto
Second Place:
Field Peas-A Mirrored Poem by Gary Phillips
Honorable Mention:
Near Sonnet for Full Revelry by S.L. Cockerille
Petition by Benjamin Cutler
frosted brown weed patch by Richard Ramsey

Katherine Kennedy McIntyre Light Verse Award
Judge Amie Whittemore
First Place:
Vespers by Ana Pugatch
Second Place:
Her Kitchen Hands Make Love by Mary Alice Dixon
Honorable Mention:
Back Yard Conundrum by Les Brown
The Art of Fishing by Earl Carlton Huband
Soliloquy of a Couch Potato by Martin Settle

Mary Ruffin Poole American Heritage Award
Judge Davis McCombs
First Place:
What is at stake. by Mary Hennessy
Second Place:
Glory by Laura Alderson
Honorable Mention:
The Barn by Les Brown
Morning Walk in a Small Coastal Town by Jo Ann Hoffman
the moonlight by Jonathan Humphrey

Poetry of Courage Award
Judge Robin Anna Smith
First Place:
Storms by Lucia Walton Robinson
Second Place:
On Hope by Emily Wilmer
Honorable Mention:
Ode to Epilepsy by Diana Ewell Engel
You, a Vessel by Anne Maren-Hogan
Nestlings by Nancy Young

Bruce Lader Poetry of Witness Award
Judge Kristina Erny
First Place:
Blank Billboard Blues by Jeanne Julian
Second Place:
Assume the Position by JeanMarie Olivieri
Honorable Mention:
White Harvest by Joyce Brown
Whose Garden Is It? by Kathleen Calby

Bloodroot Haiku Award
Judge Tanya McDonald
First Place:
emerald sheen by Anne Curran
Second Place:
boa tank by Jay Friedenberg
Honorable Mention:
the dry bellies by Seren Fargo
a split keel by Debbie Strange

Ruth Morris Moose Sestina Award
Judge Barbara Sabol
First Place:
Old Man with Old Dog by Jane Shlensky
Second Place:
Bird Counts by Jeanne Julian
Honorable Mention:
Cloud-Reading by Erica Reid
The Healing Miles by Melinda Thomsen
My Will Turned Into a Sestina by Susan Willey Spalt

Thomas H. McDill Award
Judge Virgil Suárez
First Place:
The Children’s Memorial: A Blueprint by Don Ball
Second Place:
The Stone Wall by Ana Pugatch
Honorable Mention:
Epiphany by Joseph Mills
The Caryatids by Andrew Weatherly

Last Call and a Final Hint

The submission period for the Pinesong Awards for 2021 ends at midnight. Please email your entries by then.

As I settle in to process the entries that have come in over the last several days, let me give you a final hint: you don’t have to send all your entries at the same time.

If you send some this afternoon, or if you’ve already sent some, and you get the urge to enter something else, you may do so up to the midnight deadline.

Perhaps the unprecedented events of this week have inspired fresh ink. If so, we’d love to see it.

The final poem share for this season is from NCPS member Gary Phillips:

On the River

Two older boys and me, loaded with gear
Came to the Green River in nighttime.
We trolled the river and laid out some lines
And water was over my chest at times.
It was a year like any other year.

Our forests lost and farmland gone to seed,
We caught some fish and cooked them on a fire
Watched the water and talked about desire
Howled at the moon and called each other liar
while Nixon wept and televised his greed

the Internet Poetic

Early last year, when Italy was the first country to issue stay-at-home orders, I came across a video on Twitter. It showed the tenants of an apartment complex standing on their balconies and making music together across the empty space of a courtyard.

There was no commentary, no explanation. Just the shakiness of a handheld device recording this exhibition of the human spirit.

It was intimate and it was poetic.

Throughout last year, the internet allowed us to come together when we couldn’t gather in person.

Personally, I heard more poetry read by a more diverse body of poets than ever before.

The North Carolina Poetry Society’s Awards Day Celebration was held via Zoom because we couldn’t gather safely. And while we missed a lot by not meeting face to face, we also gained a lot by being able to host award winners from far away from our home state.

This year will likely be the same. And from there I imagine we’ll have some new hybrid of an event that blends the face to face and the virtual.

The poet is an essential worker these days. For what better than poetry can bring home the experience of all us individuals facing this pandemic alone together and together alone.

Our submission period ends this weekend. I hope you will share your piece of all this by then.

Now, I would like to share the following poem by NCPS Member C.G. Thompson:

IN WHICH SHE DEALS WITH CHEMO IN HER OWN WAY

I see the brush on the bed and know the rest
of her hair is gone. Long auburn glory is stranded,

locks twined around hard plastic and bristles.
She stood at the full-length mirror, I’m guessing,

deciding to beat the inevitable at its own game.
There’s power in choosing your own moment.

Now the door to the bathroom is closed, steely light
beneath it, and I imagine she’s studying herself,

contour of scalp in plain sight, stark and exposed.
Maybe she’s touching skin, memorizing topography.

Last night she pulled our wedding bedspread
from the closet, seeking comfort in familiar fabric.

Timing the moment to knock, I sit and picture scarves,
warm and hopeful, emerging from paisley covers.

inspired by an image, “Caught in the Days Unraveling,” by Chelsea Welsh

Big Ole Comprehensive Guide to the Contests

This post gathers information and inspirations for all 11 contests, with definitions of each award category and a list of links for further exploration.

If you are seeking guidance for your entries, you will find it below.

Please note that all line counts should include the title, blank lines (after the title and between stanzas, etc.), and any epigraphs. Any entry that exceeds the line count is disqualified.

Poet Laureate Award:
serious poems, up to 110 lines

Substantial poetry of the highest caliber, with a generous line limit that allows for deep exploration and expansive expression. Ten entries will be selected as finalists by the preliminary judge and a winner will be chosen by North Carolina’s Poet Laureate.

Alice Osborn Award:
poems written for children by adults, up to 36 lines

Submissions should appeal to children, but also hold delights for adults that read to them. Playful language, surprises and novelty, rhyme (if artful), a touch of melancholy: all these and more might capture a child’s imagination.

Carol Bessent Hayman Poetry of Love Award:
on the theme of love, up to 36 lines

Love was the theme of the first written poem we know of, and it has walked hand in hand with poetry ever since. Poems submitted to this category may be in praise or lamentation, about new love or old love, passionate love or gentle love; whatever stirs this deepest of emotions.

Joanna Catherine Scott Award:
sonnets or other traditional forms, up to 36 lines

Poems in this category will employ contemporary thought expressed through a traditional form, blending creativity and technical proficiency.

Katherine Kennedy McIntyre Light Verse Award:
whimsical poems, up to 36 lines

Whimsy can circumvent bias and foment acceptance. Humorous celebrations of human foibles and light-hearted observations of this thing called life are most welcome in this category.

Mary Ruffin Poole American Heritage Award
poems of heritage, sibling-hood, or nature, up to 36 lines

The Mary Ruffin Poole American Heritage contest seeks to honor the places we come from. Our families. Our country. Our earth.

Poetry of Courage Award:
poems in praise of bravery, up to 36 lines

Submissions may be in any form or style that deals with courage in the face of crisis. From facing the first day of school as a brand new kindergartner, to finding strength to move on after the loss of a loved one.

Bruce Lader Poetry of Witness Award:
poems dealing with current issues, up to 36 lines

Poems in this category will bear witness to that which concerns you, which disgusts or inspires, scares or emboldens, uplifts or fills you with despair. Our window on the world is bigger than ever. Reflect on it.

Bloodroot Haiku Award:
haiku or senryu, 17 or fewer syllables in up to 3 lines

Haiku captures an experience and expresses it directly and plainly. They are untitled, avoid end rhymes, utilize common language, and focus on the present moment.

Ruth Morris Moose Sestina Award:
any subject in sestina form

Poems in the sestina form, which provides a technical challenge suitable for a wide range of subjects from the serious to the non-sensical.

Thomas H. McDill Award:
any form or style, up to 70 lines

With a limit of 70 lines, the McDill Award offers the opportunity to craft a more substantial work on any theme while still adhering to strong craft and powerful use of poetic language and devices.

The Pinesong Awards anthologies for 2019 and 2020 are available online at the NCPS website. Click here for 2019 and here for 2020.

Ready to submit your work? Click here.

If you need a little push or inspiration for entering contests in general, check out these posts:

For our poem for this posting, let me share this one of mine, originally published as a Poetry in Plain Sight poster in 2018:

Mountain Bridge

You want to name the trees
wrestle with memory to find
the proper words. Then grow
silent. The forest closes in, wraps
us in one hundred shades of color.

I smile at pine saplings. Stroke
their soft needles as I would
tousle a beloved child’s hair.

Again you begin to speak
exposing the hundred shades
of your personality. A mystery
that struggles with my love.

Welcome Lindsay Rice

This year’s Poetry of Love judge is Lindsay Rice of Kansas City.

Regarding how the challenges of 2020 have impacted poets, she writes:

When things get rough, is it the poets who are listening? Are they the ones who are peering into the corners of what is and isn’t true? Are they the ones quietly stirring the feelings, the reactions, the heartbreaks, the frustrations? Are the poets silently dropping words into simmering pots in hopes that a stew will emerge to feed us all? I’d like to think so, and if it is true, this year has more than enough ingredients to serve.

With so many challenges, the role of the poet becomes more important. In some ways the role of the poet has been rife with opportunity this year to speak out, to step up, and to express what needs to be expressed.

In my own writing in 2020, I find myself both leaning towards and shying away from poetry. The imagery in some of the poems I wrote before the third month of this year recount travel, and lighthearted longing. They bounce frivolously from bright colors to road signs to simple problems and cares. They are enmeshed in the metaphors of the equine. Through those poems, I wrote with an abandon that counted on the carefree, that captured my heart’s desire.

Then, in the middle of this pandemic, I moved to the top of a mountain, to a place that I’ve always said my heart resides. Little did I know that the land that held my childhood memories and wishes, would scorch in a massive wildfire. Little did I know that disruption of safety would wreak such havoc on my heart.
Yet, as snow began to fall, I somehow felt safe up here. I am away from society, away from people. But also, up here, I am alone, away from the people I love. Little did I know that being in my own company day after day would get so tiring. And then I leaned into poetry, taking solace again in the poems of Hafiz and Mary Oliver.

My older Pony Poems shied back to the barn and what emerged was a quieter conversation with nature. As my main companion, I seek life near the trees, in the sky and anyplace I can safely walk. My personal role as a poet nearing the end of the year is more insular. It is more about treasuring very small things like the glimpse of an animal or the way the light shines in the afternoon. I’m grateful, as a poet, to find love in this way.

Lindsay has this poem to share with us:

It’s Like Wildlife

Quiet are the woods, when I
step out to walk.
Pines and aspens flutter greeting.
Clouds billow against blue
and the breeze flush-blushes by.

Wildlife might be all around me
when I move on
these mountain roads.

I know the tan fur of deer is near,
the white-tipped tail of fox might appear.
I can still smell the bear
from its linger
near the trash can.

I search the bumps and ridges of sage,
I scan the hillsides behind evergreens,
but creatures elude me.

It’s just like wildlife to be
on its own terms, its own tracks—
living parallel to mine
in the dark, in the dawn
wherever attention goes.

And when I wish for something to love,
for someone who breathes, who
whispers into the ear of night.
It, or he, doesn’t come—
not anyway I expect, at least.

It’s only when I glance
sideways across the lawn, that
I see fox race to her den.
It’s only when I turn back
up the drive, that deer is there.

It’s only when I least expect everything,
that it arrives like nature, like gentle eyes,
like bear lumbering across the way.

I’d have to have binoculars
to see the silk strands that connect it all.
And even then, it’s like wildlife to
dip and turn behind trees,
to disappear in evening light.

Lindsay Rice is a writer, tutor and creative individual who loves to share the joy and challenges of writing. Lindsay has been writing poetry and prose since middle school and won a National Scholastic Writing Award at a young age. Her poem, “Elementals I” was recently published in the Green Hills Literary Lantern. Lindsay studied poetry and fiction at The University of Iowa and draws inspiration from her international and domestic travels. She has just completed her first novel, Birdenwheel, that encompasses magical realism and historical fiction. Lindsay is currently the president of Whispering Prairie Press in Kansas City, MO.

Control

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

I think most of us believe we have more of it than we really do. Or at least we believe we should.

So that feeling out of it feels either really wrong or totally liberating.

2020 has shown how easy it can be for it to slip away.

It has also underlined the importance of having a clear and realistic understanding of just what you can and cannot control.

In submitting work to a poetry contest, you give up a measure of control. Your poem must stand alone, to be judged solely on what it contains. You can’t give it context or drop hints on how it should be received. It comes down to your poem and the judge alone in the space of the page.

Therefore, I humbly suggest that you pay meticulous attention to what you can control when you make your submissions.

To wit:

  • when you have your submission assembled, check each element against the contest rules: have you included all the information requested, in the manner and form in which it was requested? is your poem in the proper format?
  • count the number of lines in your poem again: are your sure the poem is under the line maximum? did you count the title, the blank lines, and the epigraph (if any)?
  • read your poem aloud one more time before you click the send button: when you speak it aloud, does it sound like it does in your head? did you catch any misspellings or misusage of words?

Give your poem every opportunity to succeed. Don’t let it fail due to a technicality.

Now, I’m happy to share with you this poem by North Carolina Poetry Society Board Member-at-Large Paul Jones, which was originally published in River Heron Review’s Poems for Now:

Barbara Sabol, “slaking that yearning for connection.”

Barbara Sabol is our judge for the Ruth Morris Moose Sestina Award for 2021. In responding to my question of how the events of 2020 have impacted the role of the poet, she writes:

The Transformative Power of Poetry in the Year of Covid-19

The best work of poetry is to render the personal universal, creating a tether connecting poet to reader, and beyond: casting outward to a broader literary and human community. This has been especially true during this year of extended isolation―our lives abruptly uncoupled to larger society because of public safety concerns. The ensuing sense of separateness.

Of poetry, William Stafford writes, “. . .It’s a shrine/by the road, it’s a flower in the parking lot. . .” in the aptly titled piece, “Poetry.” A poem can lift us out of isolation by transforming a solitary moment into an illuminating exchange between poem and reader. A lyric poem is an intimate gesture: it may enact grief, loneliness, love, wonder―the full scope of human emotion―and speak directly to a reader’s spirit. Even when a narrative of a poem falls outside one’s ken, the human element embedded in that poem may spark a corresponding response in the reader, slaking that yearning for connection.

I have found myself drawn to poetry even more during this long stretch of seclusion; reading books cover to cover, in keeping with the intended arc, versus a typical gleaning from one section to another. Memorizing certain poems so that they beat with my body’s pulse has been a meditative, stirring practice. Certain books and specially loved poems have become companions these sheltered-in days. Stafford is my current companion, and what soothing company he keeps! Lines of his poem, “Why I Am Happy,” reside now in memory, and smooth the way to a calming breath, or to sleep.

Of course, writing holds its own transformative power. The deep dive through layers of feeling and experience allows us to surface enlightened, and perhaps reoriented to the purpose of poetry in times such as these. For those of us visited by the impulse to write, it is essential that we follow that urge, for our own well-being, and with the belief that, upon reading our work, someone may be eased from hermitage back into community.

Barbara shares this sestina with us:

The Mill Wright

We dine atop the incline plane, suspended
above dormant industrial glory―the obsolete steel
mill, Bethlehem’s iron sprawl―slumber-dragon shackled
to Allegheny Valley’s blue-collar realm; smokestacks
hold their acrid breath. Against sunset, giraffe-neck cranes
bend on rusting joints in the silhouetted rigging.

Thirty-eight years my father labored, a journeyman rigger;
young and agile, he clambered scaffolds, suspended
like a trapeze artist. Balanced atop a latticed crane
he rode the platform’s sway in the wind off the hills, steeled
himself against fear, against weary, against the stack
of woe on the counter. Love kept him there, shackled

to the notion of provision. My father accepted the shackle’s
iron rub, its chafe against his soft nature―beneath the rigors
of winch and rope, torch and flame, his lot was stacked
with home-cooked comfort, arms ’round the neck. Suspended
between college and marriage, he had chosen to steal
my mother’s affection with a steady wage, means to crane

the bricks, shingles, circuitry into place so they might crane
their dreams to children, to ribbons and tinsel, the gentle shackles
of family. As a girl, scant memory of him; the mill would steal
my father’s daylight hours, his vigor. The Corporation, true rigger,
played grime-collar labor for its gain. Workers teetered in suspended
animation between blast furnace and bar. Hope, like dominoes, stacked

to tumble, another double all around. Next day’s shrill whistle, stacks
exhaled the dragon’s toxic breathing. Only the head of the crane’s
main boom above gritted mist: my father, mid-air, suspended
over hot metal cars, coke oven―A Chagall in overalls, unshackled
to the engine room’s black heart. His brand of faith, an invisible rigging,
secured him there―practiced hands, a common knot stronger than steel.

From the balcony we consider our hometown, far below a sky steel
gray as the old mill, monument to its rust belt heyday. Stacked
layer on decadent layer a chocolate torte for our desert; the rigging
of a certain privilege. Look! Leftovers wrapped in the shape of a crane.
A toast to our fathers, who kept this city humming. I am shackled
by the memory of him aged so young; by unspoken thanks suspended

in clouds over the mill. When the plant went under, elegant cranes
poised mid-swing. A final time-clock swipe; just like that, unshackled.
Single-file, workers passed the heavy gate, then into the air, suspended.

—from Imagine a Town, Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2020

Barbara Sabol’s second full-length book, Imagine a Town, was awarded the 2019 Sheila-Na-Gig Editions poetry manuscript prize. She is the author of Solitary Spin  and two chapbooks, Original Ruse, and The Distance Between Blues. Her poetry has appeared widely in Journals and anthologies. Barbara conducts community-based poetry workshops. She contributes poetry book reviews for The Ohioana Quarterly. Barbara received an MFA from Spalding University. Her awards include an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council and the Mary Jean Irion Poetry Prize. She lives in Akron, OH with her husband and wonder dogs.

Tanya McDonald, “so many haiku about masks”

Our Bloodroot Haiku Award judge is Tanya McDonald. Here is what she has to say about the current role of haiku.

The challenges of 2020 have affected us all, but as a haiku poet and editor, I don’t feel that the role of haiku poets has changed from what it was a year ago. Our job has always been to pay attention to the world around us and to convey those observations and experiences through concise language. These observations may include nature scenes and seasonal references—cherry blossoms, migrating geese, etc.—but they may also include everyday human life.

If 2020 has changed anything in haiku, it’s the subject matter and vocabulary. This year, I’ve read haiku about tear gas and marching in solidarity, about rampant forest fires and evacuations, about standing in line to vote, about work-from-home and homeschooling, about social distancing and cancellations, about essential workers, about a future vaccine, about isolation from loved ones, and so, so many haiku about masks. I will read more haiku on these topics because this is our world in 2020.

Our role as haiku poets is still to witness, to document, to interpret, and to share with others. Our haiku not only illustrate an observation, they invite readers to bring their own experiences and emotions to the poem. In this way, haiku encourage empathy, not only with the poet but with the subject matter, whether it’s a fawn taking its first steps or someone sleeping rough under an overpass. Whether we act like it or not, we really are all in this together, and if poets can inspire more empathy toward our fellow humans and this planet, then perhaps there is hope for a brighter future for all of us.

Tanya shares this haiku with us, originally published in Presence #68 (November 2020):

his gift of lilac jelly—
back to normal
in air quotes

Tanya McDonald is known for her bright plumage and her love of birds. Her haiku, rengay, and haibun have appeared in various journals. She judged the 2014 Harold G. Henderson Haiku Contest (with Michael Dylan Welch), the 2016 Haiku Poets of Northern California Rengay Contest, and the 2018 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational (with Jacquie Pearce and Paul Chambers). Last year, she edited the 2019 Haiku Society of America’s members’ anthology, A Moment’s Longing, which prepared her for the launch of her new, print haiku journal, Kingfisher in 2020. A Touchstone Award winner and a New Resonance poet, she lives near Seattle, Washington.

Introducing Davis McCombs

Davis McCombs will be judging our Mary Ruffin Poole Award for poems on American heritage, nature, or siblinghood.

He has this to say about the role of the poet:

Even though the challenges and upheavals of 2020 have been unprecedented, I do not believe that the role of the poet—or of the poem, for that matter—have changed from what they have always been. So often in these last months I have thought of what Seamus Heaney wrote on this very topic. Heaney was my mentor and teacher in college and this brief passage is taken from his marvelous essay “The Government of the Tongue”:

“Here is the great paradox of poetry and of the imaginative arts in general. Faced with the brutality of the historical onslaught, they are practically useless. Yet they verify our singularity, they strike and stake out the ore of self which lies at the base of every individuated life. In one sense, the efficacy of poetry is nil—no lyric has ever stopped a tank. In another sense, it is unlimited.”

No one wrestled with these questions more than Heaney did. And I think what he says here is wonderfully perceptive and absolutely correct. 

Davis shares this poem with us:

Davis McCombs is the author of three collections of poetry, Ultima Thule (Yale 2000), Dismal Rock (Tupelo 2007), and lore (University of Utah Press 2016). His poems have appeared in Poetry, The New Yorker, The Missouri Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, American Poetry Review and many other publications. A recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, McCombs directs the Program in Creative Writing and Translation at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where he has taught since 2001.

Leatha Kendrick “the huge unknown of everything…”

Leatha Kendrick is the author of five poetry collections, most recently And Luckier, from Accents Publishing. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Exit 7, Tar River Poetry, Appalachian Heritage, New Madrid Review, the Southern Poetry Review, the James Dickey Review, Still: An Online Journal, the Baltimore Review, The Southern Women’s Review, and in anthologies including The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume 3—Contemporary Appalachia and What Comes Down to Us – Twenty-Five Contemporary Kentucky Poets. She lives and writes in Lexington, Kentucky.

Leatha is our judge for the Joanna Catherine Scott Award for poems in a traditional form.

Here are her views on how 2020 has impacted the role of the poet:

As the pandemic spread across the world this year, poetry became one of the ways humans made it through the uncertain days. People went looking for the poems that had helped them through dark times in the past and shared poetry to comfort themselves and cheer each other up. Poets and those who maybe had never written a poem before were moved to a new intensity of attention. As 2020 unfolded we sat by our windows and went for walks, and the world leapt up on us like a big dog, nearly knocking us down. And we wrote what we saw and heard and felt. And on those nights when we couldn’t sleep, when the huge unknown of everything pressed in at the windows, we got up and wrote some more, saying this is how it feels now, and maybe this, as well.

The events of 2020 have not changed so much as affirmed “the role of the poet in society,” which is to pay attention to the world as it is and to shape poems from it. In a year filled with extraordinary and historic moments, poems have voiced our wonder – our outrage – our despair – our grief – our gratitude – our ordinary encounter with being alive in a particular body, culture, history, family, place, at this instant in time.

Poetry is uniquely suited to convey the immediacy of sensory experience and give a shape to the fullness of lived moments, with all the paradoxes and contradictions they contain. The shaping function of poetry creates Frost’s “momentary stay against confusion” for both poet and reader. Whether we are a writer or a reader poems both stir us up and settle us down. It’s why we turn to reading and to writing them again and again.

This poem, written in late 2018, was published by Rattle and turned out to be the opening poem in her latest book, And Luckier, published in April, 2020:

https://www.accents-publishing.com/andluckier.html