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Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, Susan Blackwell Ramsey’s A Mind Like This is a work of humor and wit, unexpectedly delightful and full of surprises as it reflects on the oddness of everyday life, the natural world, literary history, popular culture, and more. Everything is fair game for Ramsey, who finds poetry in love and sickness and life, of course, but also in knitting and unreliable bladders and the peculiar name of Kalamazoo. Neruda makes an appearance, as do Eric Clapton and Brahms, Leonard and Virginia Woolf, and Jimmy Stewart. Whether observing the pickled heads of Peter the Great’s offenders, wondering “How to Seduce Henry David Thoreau,” becoming the insecure voice of Kalamazoo, or puzzling over the intricacies of the mind that blocks a dear friend’s birthday while preserving the name of Emily Dickinson’s dog in perpetuity, Ramsey’s collection is wise and funny, allusive and deeply felt.
In Kara Candito's prize-winning debut collection a "garish/human theatre" comes to life against richly textured geographic and psychic landscapes. These poems are high-speed meditations on a world where Walter Benjamin meets the "glitzy chain-link of Chanel scarves" and Puccini's Tosca meets the din of the Times Square subway station. Ferociously witty and intensely lyrical, Taste of Cherry speaks to us in a language that is simultaneously private and public, sensual and cerebral.
From sensual pleasures and perils, moments and memories of darkness and light, the poems in Orlando Ricardo Menes’s new collection sew together stories of dislocation and loss, of survival and hope, of a world patched together by a family over five generations of diaspora. This is Menes’s tapestry of the Americas. From Miami to Cuba, Panama to Bolivia and Peru, through the textures, sounds, colors, shapes, and scents of exile and emigration, we find refuge at last in a sense of wholeness and belonging residing in this intensely felt, finely crafted poetry.
A series of poems about ordinary women piecing together their own significance.
Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, Shane Book?s collection, Ceiling of Sticks, is a powerful and unflinching sort of documentary poetics. It bears elegiac witness to the effects of global politics on individual lives. Book?s poems carry us to Uganda, Ghana, Mali, Trinidad, and Canada?s west coast; from a religious sacrifice in Tarahumara, Mexico, to Book?s ailing grandfather?s bedside. They bring an intimate vision of humanity to scenes of inhuman atrocity and suffering; a moment of clarity and empathy to individuals overwhelmed by war or other man-made catastrophes. The attentiveness of the poems and meditative lyrics reveal a careful allegiance to their subjects and a fearless refusal to turn away. Filled with experiences of Africa and Latin America, California and the Caribbean, family and lost love, these poems resonate with the intensity of truth as it is lived and written.
After ten years of selecting great books from writers, new and established, Prairie Schooner celebrates the first decade of its Book Prize series by offering this collection of excerpts from each year’s winners in fiction and poetry. Writers such as Brock Clarke, Anne Finger, Rynn Williams, and Paul Guest open windows to ordinary and fantastic experience showcasing the liveliness and power of contemporary literature. Greg Hrbek’s darkly comic, genre-bending tales stand alongside Ted Gilley’s stories about achieving bliss through pain and John Keeble’s reflections on community and the difficulty of love. Here Shane Book’s poems serve as an elegiac witness to suffering, while Kathleen Flenniken’s poems consider ordinary women constructing their own significance, and Kara Candito’s explore sex, loss, and human passions. Whether the topic is fantastic or quotidian, childbirth or monsters, South American airplane disaster or suburban Wisconsin, this writing carries us to the furthest reaches of human experience.
Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, Susan Gubernat’s The Zoo at Night reflects with subtle craft on the dark side of love, death, the family romance, carnality, and lofty aspirations. She thinks of her poems as “night thoughts” resembling nocturnes, in which “a bit of light leaks in.” Both experimental and classic, Gubernat’s poems combine formal and free verse elements. A (mostly) unrhymed sonnet sequence seeks to recall the world of a pre-digital childhood when physical objects—tactile, mechanical—took on totemic import and magical significance. Other poems echo the Rilkean principle that poetry can be empathetic by looking outward at the “thingness” of the world. In these works of love and longing, Gubernat enters through the doors of craft and exits with feeling.

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