George Bogin Memorial Award - 2010
Cochiti Lake, 1989
Hettie Jones on Sawnie Morris
Drawn immediately to the imagery in Sawnie Morris's poem, upon second look I thought that what held me most was its rhythm, the sure line, how the poem used the space on the page to lead the reader in. But as I read "Cochiti Lake, 1989" over and over (aloud, too), I decided that even though all these accomplishments proved unfailingly true, what finally makes this poem work so well, and why I find it so deserving, is its own living presence, its connecting of the personal with the political, the singular to the plural, how it reaches from one breathing body to another. Olson taught that the poem is an energy transfer from the poet to the reader. Here we have energy aplenty. What we didn't know of cadmium, cesium, hexavalent chromium and all the rest, we must now accept—in ourselves in the body politic, in the body of the earth we have oppressed Sawnie Morris fulfills, on all fronts, the mission of the George Bogin Award: "We didn't know…where we could no longer swim/where and what we could no longer drink," she writes, and leads us from water to the inevitable: "Consider…being 're-suspended in high winds.'"