The Adrienne Rich Award for Poetry!
During the spring semester, I undertook a very odd, intense project. I gave myself six weeks to draft a new poetry collection, a link sequence of lyrical fragments that imagined a particular what if: what if we suddenly lost the First Amendment and American poets had to learn to write the kind of coded verse that Polish poets wrote under communism? What would American political poetry sound like? What would it say? And how would it say it? I looked to examples like Zbigniew Herbert’s figure of Pan Cogito for guidance, and for six weeks I wrote and wrote, sometimes drafting five or six fragments in a day.
And this is how American Samizdat came to be (although it was at first titled Dark Lines Against the Dark). Although the initial drafting of the manuscript was very fast, it has taken me much longer to figure out to revise the book and how to send out individual poems–all of which are untitled–for consideration to literary journals. So, when I heard from Beloit Poetry Journal that a group of fragments from the book had been selected by Naomi Shihab Nye (!) as the winner of the Adrienne Rich Award for Poetry, I was thrilled to know the poems could viably exist in the world, independent from the manuscript as a whole. And, of course, I’m absolutely delighted that this grouping will appear in an upcoming issue of Beloit Poetry Journal, which you can read more about here.