Award Winners

Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award - 2007

Rusty Morrison


pale fingers of inheritance do not disintegrate until they touch 

us stop

meaning collapses on the inhale please

gestures too quick to catch are the guarantors of the given stop

the true keeps calm biding its story stop

the arsonist's perspiration stains the sky black please

the gray-and-white patched cat licks her paw till value becomes 


incalculable stop

I wasn't traveling westward only into the power of its place-

names stop

the water puddle sways like an earthbound kite stop

the stickiness of this instance seals within it every expression of 

its menace

please advise

Susan Howe on Rusty Morrison

The first thing that struck me reading "the true keeps calm biding its story" was the fiercely peaceful aphorism that serves as title for the sequence to come. Each of the thirty- six pages contains three, precisely arranged, three-line stanzas. Each line is broken at the justified right-hand margin with the words "stop," "please," or "advise." This poet puts her trust in the measure of order—order experienced as liberation. That "stop" can be rendered infinitely open is its striking singularity. The contemplative visionary quietism of Rusty Morrison's work recalls the graph paintings of Agnes Martin while remaining absolutely original. Reading meditative and tremulous lines in the manuscript such as:

Nearness is a funnel into which I keep pouring us stop

Each vow of truthfulness is darkly overhung with a rampart of

prophesy stop

the visible is overtaking and undertaking me at the same time


I think of how perfectly they answer to William James' description of our consciousness in the "different pace of its parts. Like a bird's life . . . made of an alternation of flights and perchings."