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For a third year, Boston Review, in partnership with the 92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center, proudly presents the winners of the Joan Leiman Jacobson Poetry Prizes. Now in its fifth decade, the “Discovery” Poetry Contest recognizes and celebrates the achievements of poets who have not yet published a book. Many winners of this contest have gone on to distinguished careers as poets. This year’s judges are Nick Flynn, Susan Howe, and Claudia Rankine. From a pool of nearly 900 entries, the judges selected works by Chelsea Jennings, Brandon Kreitler, Tanya Olson, and Camille Rankine (no relation to Claudia Rankine), citing their intellectual complexity, artistic discernment, and clarity of vision as distinguishing characteristics. The winners read from their poems at the Unterberg Poetry Center in New York on May 10, 2010.
Landscape Without the Fall of Icarus
“Skeins of smoke in the sky / The cornfields suffer snow”
Before the Invention of Perspective in Painting
“The sword and the sky are contiguous, / the halo of one saint the face of another.”
In the Cordage of the Municipality
“The aperture of dawn breaks / over the government lake”
“Take the line of the road.”
Still Life with Spurious Picturesque
“The thought insists upon itself. The dead / body of it, what you have put together”
The Increasing Frequency of Black Swans
“I was listening for the dog / when the locks were pried open.”
Notes from Jonah’s Lecture Series
“Inside the whale, it is as if / you have always been inside a whale,”
How Hard It Is Not to Buy a Tiger
“How many men walk the docks. How many stop / to consider panthera tigris tigris. How many fail”
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Draconian individual punishment distracts from systemic change and reinforces the cruelest and most racist system of incarceration on the planet.
Our well-being depends on a better understanding of how the logic of labor has twisted our relationship with pleasure.
“I was my father’s son. My father was Nai Nai’s least favorite.” A Taiwanese American man, driven from home by a secret, reevaluates his childhood memories of his grandmother.