When I read the initial email from the Bellday office a week ago, I felt my heart stop beating for a moment. (And I’d just guzzled an enormous coffee at Mishka’s, so it was a particularly acute feeling.) Just like that: the book. Where manuscript submissions used to occupy my to-do list, there is suddenly a tremendous lot of new things to do. As I begin tackling pre-publication devoirs, I find myself retracing moments in this book’s history – where I was when I wrote the oldest poem in it. What a reader said about this line or that one that helped me feel my way toward the whole. The things various journal editors have said over the years about work they’ve seen and published. The day I realized I had a title. It’s putting me back in an orbital headspace that leaves me feeling extraordinarily intertwined with so many people – an awesomely gratifying view.
The official announcement from Bellday:
The distinguished poet and scholar Elaine Equi has selected OPEN WINTER by Rae Gouirand of Davis, California as the winner of the 2011 Bellday Poetry Prize.
About the winning entry, Ms. Equi said, “These poems possess a quiet urgency -an elegant, stark beauty. The speaker wonders “What minimum: can I say. . .” The line “radiates/its own idea of bareness.” The sentences are prisms conjugating light. But there is also an unsettling quality to this work that continually questions itself and resolutely insists on remaining open to possibility and fluctuation. I’m deeply impressed by the strikingly original combination of delicacy and rigor – the seemingly effortless way the focus shifts from outer landscapes to “the sky we have inside.”
Here’s to the space that’s just been born for all the work yet to come!