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The Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry was inaugurated in 2003 to honor the late poet, a nationally recognized writer and a former professor at the University of Utah, and is sponsored by the University of Utah Press and the University of Utah Department of English.
Dear Blackbird, is the 2006 prize-winning volume selected by this year's judge, J. D. McClatchy, editor of The Yale Review.
Jane Springer grew up in a myriad of small towns in Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Kentucky. A doctoral candidate, she currently teaches English in the Creative Writing Program at Florida State University in Tallahassee.
From Dear Blackbird,:
Why Bother Resurrecting the Dead
When their multitudes of affliction may better serve
a second earth,
that needs more haunting through its branches—
needs more briar, less water &
more apology. Even
the weeping cherry seems less romantic, now,
having blossomed tiny handkerchiefs
& cast them down—
it belongs to the realm of barn-born kings & the first-
born sons of Herod
(whose springs were silenced underground).
I have to believe that what I love is not wrapped up in
the finite magic of a discourse,
& that the first place is moving on, so that the
first words is not, finally, spoken, but
stays on the palate—
just as the sparrow stays among the palmetto fronds.
or having any thought we think it should—
but warbling in ways we
have not known.
Praise and Reviews:
"Most new poetry I read nowadays seems decorous in its austerities or its embellishments: willed, over-plotted, dry. Not Jane Springer’s. Her work leaps to its tasks with a heady extravagance. Dear Blackbird, is her letter to the world, as eerie as Dickinson’s. Its pages don’t depend on a sequence of neat stanzas but are a surge of incantatory phrases and feelings. The skin of each poem quivers with the mind’s contradictions, the heart’s panic. It is risky, not merely reckless; rapturous, not merely rapacious. Memories spill over fantasies, Southern lore collides with hipster know-how. This book is the most exciting debut in years, and when we remember that 'début' originally meant to score first in a new game, that is just what Springer has done: taken on a new set of terms and struck first, struck gold."
—J. D. McClatchy
"Jane Springer's poetry, anthologized in the pages of Dear Blackbird, ...documents her impressive flair for free verse lyrics that are not restricted to the boundaries of ordinary stanza sequences of formats but are as original in their composition as they are in the content. Lovers of language and appreciators of poetry will enjoy the originality and engagement of Springer's deftly crafted verse."
—The Midwest Book Review
2006 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry Award
Whiting Writers’ Award