Award Winners

Student Poetry Award - 2024

S. Brook Corfman


Repetition

After reading about cherry blossoms
I see them from the car, more fibrous
than those I’d pictured. Even the sun
has become a tumultuous relationship,
the way it felt when I spent too long
with my Virgo ex before I’d started
putting retinol on my face each night,
even drunk, even with a lover waiting.
I don’t miss it, that heat, except
when I loop the same song on my walk
to the coffee shop. Some days even this
feels isolated. Some people look good regardless
of their gender. I watch my cheeks puff
and hook a shadow in the screen. I wait for the blossoms
to fall but it turns out they’re made of copper,
beautiful and heavy and natural but shaped,
made for a different timeline than the summer
and then the fall. I add this tree to my mind.
Everywhere special to me there was once
a dead tree that, specifically, was special to me
before it was cut down.


Richie Hofmann on S. Brook Corfman

This is a poem with an intimate voice, with sprezzatura, and with intense feeling. I love this poem’s cool deployment of sentences, its command of the line, its subtle negotiations of tone. Its unfolding images are precise and specific—the cherry blossoms glimpsed from the car, the window into a memory of a season, of a love affair, of time passing—while its narratives suggest a psychology of a speaker I long to know. This poet can ask the immense questions without being dramatic. While the poem’s utterance feels contemporary and vernacular, the poem’s heart is in the realm of traditional lyric: the disappointments of love, the fragility of the body, and the encroachment of death. “I wait for the blossoms / to fall.” It’s a poem that, in so many ways, captures what we tend to mean by “lyric.” It is musical. It is emotive. It is a complex, singular self making itself known, making itself clear, somehow, before our eyes. And all the while it comments on the work of poetry—to fix memory, sensations, and feelings to the page, to make a moment a monument: “I add this tree to my mind,” the speaker declares; we do, too.

**

S. Brook Corfman
is the author of My Daily Actions, or The Meteorites, one of The New York Times Best Poetry Books of 2020, a finalist for the Publishing Triangle's Leslie Feinberg Award, and the winner of the Fordham POL Prize chosen by Cathy Park Hong. She is also the author of Luxury, Blue Lace, chosen by Richard Siken for the 2018 Autumn House Rising Writer Prize, and several shorter works including the Belladonna* chaplet Frames.