Award Winners

Lyric Poetry Award - 2002

Shira Dentz


It's a new sky today. I want to use this blue to make.
New, as we call the moon when it isn't visible,
but here, black smoke instead of the moon.

I want to take the blue like it's something.
Today the most beautiful blue ever.
The fullest range of shades I want to list them.
Blue alone a rainbow.

On the third day, gone the smoke to breathe from,
gone the black funnel to a hovering
like a swarm;
a net, perhaps, of a yellowing black that makes me think of
someone dead, so, perhaps, the flag of corpse.

Today no interference.
You can keep looking up the blue.

Only across town the still-fresh smell,
guttural blue.

Mark Levine on Shira Dentz

"Blue Skies" is less interested in describing what it finds overhead than in composing the particular sky it needs. The poem confronts the shock of emotional "newness" in raw and, at times, halting syntax; it is looking for a path to what lies beyond the "visible," to a "something" that can only be located "beyond interference." It is a poem that paints its sky in crisp, brushstroke-like lines, a poem that is equally elegant and tense, never less than suspicious of the transcendence it seeks.