Nimrod’s eagerly anticipated annual awards issue features prize winners, finalists, semi-finalists, and honorable mentions in the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction: Terry Blackhawk, Shannon Robinson, Harry Bauld, Lydia Kann, Dan Kelty, Deborah DeNicola, Morris Collins, Sue Pace, Jude Nutter, Francine Marie Tolf, Ed Frankel, William Pitt Root, Laura LeCorgne, Andrea L. Watson, Usha Akella, Mark Wagenaar, Kate Fetherston, and Pamela Davis. Their work is accompanied by poems and stories by several dozen other poets and prose writers, including the amazingly prolific poet Linda Pastan, widely published poet Richard Terrill, and several fine translations of poetry originally published in Turkish and German.
I liked, in particular, Lydia Kann’s story “The Arrival,” with its short narrative fragments and approachable prose: “The bus is smoking as it pulls into the slot between a Greyhound and Trailways. Not like Camels, mind you. Fumes.” Kann’s story begins with casual, conversational assurance and ends with lyrical impact. I appreciated Margarite Lindry’s story “Panic,” for much the same reasons, a story that amounts to more than the sum of its parts.
Poetry, prize-winning or not, is characterized by sharp focus on detail; cautious diction; and attention to sound. Melancholy, longing, and lost opportunity are prevalent themes, along with wistful nature scenes and poignant family stories. Here is an excerpt from Rebecca Hazelton’s “[The Birds Begun at Four o’clock – ]”:
This is not the dark wood, or the midway
ha-ha stumbled over. The birds
eke out a song over the din of leaf
And here is another from Amorak Huey’s poem “Crossing the Cahaba River on a Fallen Tree, My Brother Breaks His Arm”:
I don’t remember Silas falling,
though he did and I was there
so must have seen. I don’t remember
his landing or lying on a bed of creekstones,
though he must have. I remember
the water oak’s dirt-caked roots
spidering into the air, this giant
ripped free from its tethers,
and the cold breaking of the spring river
around my fist,
A number of extremely fine black and white photographs appear at the end of literary contributions, including “Dancing Whooping Cranes,” by Alice Lindsay Price, which captures the birds lifting off from the water, wings about to open, and poised for flight.