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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.
A series of poems about ordinary women piecing together their own significance.
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.
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.
Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, American Radiance, at turns funny, tragic, and haunting, reflects on the author's experience immigrating as a child to the United States from Ukraine in 1991. What does it mean to be an American? Luisa Muradyan doesn't try to provide an answer. Instead, the poems in American Radiance look for a home in history, folklore, misery, laughter, language, and Prince's outstretched hand. Colliding with the grand figures of late '80s and early '90s pop culture, Muradyan's imagination pushes the reader forward, confronting the painful loss of identity that assimilation brings.
Colliding with and confronting The Tempest and postcolonial identity, the poems in Safiya Sinclair's Cannibal explore Jamaican childhood and history, race relations in America, womanhood, otherness, and exile. She evokes a home no longer accessible and a body at times uninhabitable, often mirrored by a hybrid Eve/Caliban figure. Blooming with intense lyricism and fertile imagery, these full-blooded poems are elegant, mythic, and intricately woven. Here the female body is a dark landscape; the female body is cannibal. Sinclair shocks and delights her readers with her willingness to disorient and provoke, creating a multitextured collage of beautiful and explosive poems.
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.
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