Iowa Poetry Prize

John Smith, Will Wordsworth

Published by: University of Iowa Press

Go

Browse Books in Series:

Iowa Poetry Prize

1 2 3 4 NEXT next

Results 1-10 of 36

:
:
restricted access This search result is for a Book

Aggregate of Disturbances

In Aggregate of Disturbances, Michele Glazer confronts the slipperiness of language and perception as she probes natural processes—the lives of insects, the uncertainty of love, and the deaths of human beings. Nature’s beauty interests Glazer less than the fact that it is chaotic, amoral, redundant, charming, and indifferent to human concern—qualities that are, in these poems, turned into another kind of beauty. “The stalk was knocked flat &the allium’s great lavender sphere / kissed the dirt &in the aftermath the pendulous blossomed / tip bobbed like a wand madly attempting to enchant-enchant-enchant. / / I wanted to believe that it happened to amuse me.”

These taut lyrical poems negotiate between desire for something irrefutable and an uneasy bedrock of paradox. In the interstices, Aggregate of Disturbances breaks open language and experience to offer a glimpse of “the eye on the other side.”

restricted access This search result is for a Book

American Spikenard

2006 Iowa Poetry Prize winner

“If everyone decided to call themselves a girl / that word would stop.” In this award-winning volume of authoritative and assertive poems, Sarah Vap embarks on an emotional journey to the land of America’s female children. Questioning, contradicting, radically and restlessly demanding acceptance, she searches for a way to move from serious girlhood to womanly love. Demonstrating the seriousness of female childhood—which is as dangerous and profound as war, economics, and history, that is, as manhood, in her view—Vap reveals the extremes of self-doubt and self-righteousness inherent in being a contemporary American girl.
“When we’re overcome / by everything we think we love—then by morning / we’re adults.” Just as the oil of American spikenard may provide relief from childhood, so does Sarah Vap provide the kind of holy and extravagant love and honor that can relieve the growing pains of “everyone’s little girl.”

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Cardinal Points

Pettit, Michael

Strung throughout the book are poems based on the Scottish photographer Eadwaerd Muybridge's Animal Locomotion, a historic photographic document. Pettit uses these pioneering images as the basis for his poetic dreaming, and the result is a poignant, integrated sequence of highly moving poems, studded between other vivid lyrics.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Cloud of Ink

On the surface, L. S. Klatt’s poems are airy and humorous—with their tales of chickens wandering the highways of Ohio and Winnebago trailers rolling up to heaven and whales bumping like watermelons in a bathtub—but just under the surface they turn disconcertingly serious as they celebrate the fluent word.
 Under the heat of inquiry, under the pressure of metaphor, the poems in Cloud of Ink liquefy, bend, and serpentine as they seek sometimes a new and sometimes an ancient destination. They present the reader with existential questions as they side-wind into the barbaric; the pear is figured as a “wild boar” and the octopus is “gutted,” yet primal energies cut a pathway to the mystical and the transcendent. The poetic cosmos Klatt creates is loquacious and beautiful, strange and affirmative, but never transparent. Amid “a maelstrom of inklings,” the writer—and the audience—must puzzle out the meaning of the syllabary.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Control Bird Alt Delete

Alexandria Peary

“‘Go play!’ advises Peary in her third collection, and we do, with ‘a tassel of rain,’ with ‘dove-colored sounds’ and ‘starter castles.’ The topos is New England archaeology; it’s Colorforms and Legos; Charley Harper landscapes become interiors; we are delighted to already find ourselves where we couldn’t possibly get to.”—Caroline Knox, author, Flemish: Poems
 
In Control Bird Alt Delete, the reader is invited to explore strange landscapes: some based on the ruins of New England and others following the architectural prints of the unconscious. The reader walks through woods filled with cellar holes, rock walls, and lilac bushes, and is made to think of people gone missing. Robert Frost meets Times Square. Nature intrudes in unexpected ways on domestic settings—and vice versa—domestic and industrial settings appear in bits inside the pastoral. Birds, one-dimensional but strangely wise, flit back and forth and rebelliously tape up their songs. The senses are thoroughly blended, leading to strange combinations and sensory experiences, to states of mindfulness and blizzard distraction.

All the while, the unconscious threatens to intrude, with its underlined places, its trap doors inside ordinary conversations, the mazes it hangs up like “welcome home” banners next to people’s mouths while they speak. The reader follows the first-person I through mazes, office spaces, and coils of highway traffic, hoping for some redemption, some sort of answer to all the deletion.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Full Catastrophe Living

Merging the spirits of Don Quixote, Shakespearean fools, Theodore Roethke, Frank O’Hara, James Merrill, and the Marx Brothers, Zach Savich’s first book does more than showcase the innovative fluency of its roving forms and moods: these poetic hybrids are not hothouse blossoms but minotaurs. With ebullient intelligence and high-stakes insistence on the panic, lust, and suffering of the sensual world, Full Catastrophe Living uses the self as an instrument to investigate art, love, and the hardest honesty.

In meditations, songs, slapstick sequences, sonnets, narratives, and tightly carved fragments, Savich explores the conflicts between romance and reality, between inventing a new world and staying true to this one. Relishing both traditional and experimental poetics, he takes refreshing, ecumenical risks to show the “strange grace / of bells that ring with a rag’s polishing.” Like a Fourth of July band conductor guiding planes to land, his poetic wit alters what’s real. This book will change the ways that readers think about poetry, language’s expressive capacity, and the robust world around us.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Grand & Arsenal

Kerri Webster

 

From the intersection of public and private fear, Kerri Webster’s award-winning collection speaks of anxiety and awe, vanishings and reappearances. A city both rises and falls; worlds are simultaneously spoken into being and torn down by words. “This is how time sounds,” Webster writes; this is the hum and click of bodies “desirous of believing we’re all vehicle, every wet atom of us,” even as the saved seeds root in the fallen brickwork and the artifacts pile up: wisdom teeth, hummingbird skulls, plumb bobs, icons, antlers, incandescent bulbs.

Grand & Arsenal begins “Bless me I am not myself,” but it is not long before the probability of being blessed is revealed to be as remote as the concept of a whole self. Thus begins the book’s defining struggle, enacted by a multitude of voices which move from rush to stumble and back again—meanwhile using all the tools we as a culture use to hold fear at arm’s length.

We hear a familiar irony, as in “On a trip West, porn in the hotel room. I can take or leave it. The climax that puts me in the seats? World’s end.” We hear humor, as in “I believed in . . . / . . . a certain apocalypse not so much foretold as crafted / by large-brained monkeys.” We hear understatement, as in “knowing it does not matter / in the grand—she would say scheme, I would say / mishap—.” Most importantly, though, these poems allow for the fleeting triumph of an undefended voice, which appears often to emerge tentatively from a sort of exhausted collapse.

 

restricted access This search result is for a Book

The Hemophiliac's Motorcycle

In this second wise and passionate book, Tom Andrews explores illness as a major theme, avoiding sentimentality without being merely confessional. He advances his considerable talent with great strength and forcefulness. The poems ae buoyant with humor and mindful of larger mysteries even as they investigate very personal issues. There is an urgency that is compelling; the work is immersed in the private grief of the speaker without excluding the reader. There is real and hard-won wisdom and intelligence in the poems, offering genuine surprises and delight; their attractive humility is not a pose.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Inland

Pamela Alexander's poetry is characterized by inventive language, scrupulous accuracy of imagery, and a winning fusion of the comic and the deeply serious. Her subjects vary as widely as her settings, which range from the New Hampshire woods to the Arizona desert. A family life eccentric to the point of chaos, close observations of wildlife, and coastal sailing are among the poet's topics.

Despite this variety, Inland has an emerging organization that suggests a kind of plot. The family is left behind in the way that families of origin always are, revealed fully only in perspective: “foghorns / in the harbor, two different pitches / at different intervals / repeating so often I didn't hear them / and their accidental harmonies / until I'd left town.” Shifting toward the subject of new relationships, in her diatribe against a past (and passing) lover Alexander gives a new twist to the fact that this subject has been fair game for poets for centuries: “...you could say hello, you canoe-footed fur-faced / musk ox, pockets full of cheese and acorns / and live fish and four-headed winds and sky...”

James Merrill, praising Alexander's first book, called it “a wonderful achievement. Her language is now simple, now playful, now extremely poignant.” This is an apt description of Inland as well, a book that shows Alexander in witty yet serious engagement with the world. The longest poem here, “Swallowing the Anchor” (the title is the sailors' term for giving up the sea), is also the most directly personal. It closes the section of the book in which the poet comes to terms with losses, including the death of the loved one. She does this with grace—and her wit is not jokes, her poignancy is not sentimentality.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

La Far

Eric Linsker

How far are we from the Lake District? How far from the garden? Eric Linsker’s first book scrolls down the Anthropocene, tracking our passage through a technophilic pastoral where work and play are both forms of making others suffer in order to exist. In La Far, the world is faraway near, a hell conveniently elsewhere in which workers bundle Foxconn’s “rare earths” into the “frosty kits” that return us our content, but also the sea meeting land as it always has. Both are singable conditions and lead, irreversibly, to odes equally comfortable with praise and lament. The poems in La Far hope that by making the abstract concrete and the concrete abstract, “literalizing / a nightingale beyond / knowledge,” we might construct what Words-worth called a “Common Day,” a communized life partaken of by all.

1 2 3 4 NEXT next

Results 1-10 of 36

:
:

Return to Browse All Series on Project MUSE

Series

Iowa Poetry Prize

Content Type

  • (36)

Access

  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access