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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 former professor at the University of Utah, and is sponsored by the University of Utah Press and the University of Utah Department of English. Fire Pond is the 2008 prizewinning volume selected by this year’s judge, Medbh McGuckian, poet, editor, and teacher from Belfast.
Jessica Garratt grew up in rural Maryland. A doctoral candidate, she currently teaches and holds a Creative Writing Fellowship at the University of Missouri. She has also received fellowships from the Michener Center for Writers and the MacDowell Colony. Her poems have appeared in Shenandoah, Michigan Quarterly Review, North American Review, and other journals. This is her first book.
Gently Read Literature Review
Sycamore Review Interview and Review
Jessica Garratt interview on How a Poem Happens
Read An Interview With the Author
From Fire Pond:
Out walking last evening (past stables, the fireflies
low along the tree line, a brief warm gust
quickening some current that repeated
in me), I watched as I climbed over
a blurred version of the fence, and broke
into a wild tear toward the horses
dining solemnly together on the hill.
And, at first, as just after a dream, it wasn’t clear
which was me—the one who ran, a cry dislodged
like red magician’s silk from her throat,
or the one who continued to trace with her steps
the simple intention of the fence, economical
inside her life. It wasn’t clear who was who
until one let go—the way a child lets go
of balloon after balloon, across years,
and only with practice is able to watch
that bright shape float away
and not feel herself go with it.
Praise and Reviews:
"Jessica Garratt’s Fire Pond sifts through raw experience and suffering, toward acceptance and understanding of a deep nature. Garratt’s philosophical curiosity and openness are counterpoints to her refreshing wit and humor. She narrates her private heartbreaks candidly but without self pity or narcissism, while infusing her work with an Emersonian sense of place as sacred."
"These poems are beautifully constructed handbooks full of clues toward the meaning of ourselves and our fate in the world and they are written in such a way as to show, unhidden, the steps the poet took in order to seek that knowledge...We can surely look forward to new and exciting work from this poet as she develops."
— Christopher Crawford, Gently Read Literature
2008 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry Award