Award Winners

Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award - 2009

Melissa Kwasny


Note left foot with interior spiral. Note the torso, storehouse of resins and gums. We have been here before, counting as we step down. Counting: tool of the magicians. Perhaps the Hopi are right, that we emerged from the earth, like bears. Perhaps that is why we carry the earth-jars inside us. We recognize our companions as they pass on the left. By drift of sage, an iridescence of throat armor. The gay men have cues, a plain or plaid bandana, in the front pocket or the back, as the gangs do. Erratics: the field of our remains. A scientist on the radio says that, contrary to past belief, the damaged brain can learn to heal itself. We can take back our pogroms, we could pray the blind to see, perhaps two leaders, enemies, who will stop now. Thoreau died whispering 'Indians' and 'buffalo', it is said. We do sometimes get to choose our lives. Set in motion, as it has been explained to me.

Ed Roberson on Melissa Kwasny

Melissa Kwasny's sequence of prose poems investigate, with an archaeologist's eye, the petroglyphs and pictographs of sites in Montana. She writes, "Whatever you see, you give nourishment to." Kwasny's poems see and nourish a complicated past and present in images native to the land we merely occupy: "We recognize a figure, a brother, a twin, who is then punished for our disabilities, our own strangeness."