Award Winners

George Bogin Memorial Award - 2021

Natalie Eilbert


Not, I wanted to call this testimony, to say
               evidence, one who attests, but         something yes
delicious about psalm, as in song sung to a
                              harp, that English is            the         only instance of the word
in which its p is not pronounced, which begs
               which pleads, which we removed long ago
to be more snake than path, why I thought
                              about testimony                 because I never did, and
there are degrees of abuse, and one can inter
                course without         consent and only receive a
fine, it is the third degree, psalm begins us
                              on             a         mountain, fine, because the mountain can
only watch its animals fall, its face sings to
                a string as     a        thing plummets through an
anti-scream, anti-testimony, the body as it
                              will be unseen     unlikely as              itself, as its bright
evidence of being, I say this because a story
                became clear to me, about me, the work I’ve
done on forgiveness without letting myself
                              off the hook,        a              phrase that means to unhinge
the strung body, though like most contemporary
                language it    elides the violence       in search of
more common reliefs, to be let off the hook
                              when a ride is       no            longer necessary, when an
appointment is no longer necessary, when a
                confession is, when fine,    so I am                  fueled by the complication
of shadow in a linguistic sense, in a disordered
                               sense, the story is                a           simple psalm, a p hidden
in our wet dramas the what we owe, and owe
                and oh, psalm                     as in paradigm, between balm
and bomb, answer me   when   I          call to you

Shane McCrae on Natalie Eilbert

The packet of five poems I’ve chosen as the winner of the 2021 George Bogin Memorial Award seems to me extraordinary; each poem claimed my more than complete attention—that is to say, each poem made my attention seem bigger, more comprehensive, than I could make it on my own. The power of these poems to make more of the reader arises from an unusual combination of openness and difficulty—reading them, I was reminded of a remark from one of Isaac Rosenberg’s letters that has been on my mind lately: “Simple Poetry that is where an interesting complexity of thought is kept in tone and right value to the dominating idea so that it is understandable and still ungraspable[.]” These poems are both understandable and ungraspable—although they welcome the reader, they will not be claimed by the reader—and the reader’s attention and imagination are both enlarged, in part, by the reader’s effort to meet the poems at the poems’ great heights.