Hi Hart Beat. How are you? I’m sitting in my perfect little studio that Matt and I called “our little Scandinavian getaway” all winter long. It felt just like that, with the snow coming down softly on the roof, my fairy lights twinkling outside on the balcony. Now that spring is here and summer is coming fast, we rearranged the furniture to make room for a little sitting table and couch. I think we’re going to need another nickname soon.
Anyway, this month is National Poetry. I’ve written about poetry I love so much here on Hart Beat over the years. One of my favorite emails I get every morning is a poem of the day from the National Poetry Foundation. It took me a while to figure out I actually liked poetry though, Hart Beat. It wasn’t until I figured out that for me at least, liking a poem doesn’t mean understanding it or even loving it, it means I get a feeling from it. It doesn’t matter what the feeling is and half the time I couldn’t even name the feeling if I tried. It’s a low bar and for that, the world of poetry is now huge and I am grateful to know it.
This month the Pulitzer Prizes in Literature were announced. The winner for poetry is Forrest Gander’s, Be With. A few days after the announcement I saw a list float around on Twitter with all the other books that were under final consideration for the category.
I’m sorry to say that the only book I was already familiar with was Mary Karr’s. So, I did what any other aspiring writer who likes poetry would do, I requested the rest of them on inter-library loan. Most of them have come in since then. I loved The Carrying, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl, and Blue Rose. I’m still waiting for a few more, including the winner.
The full list is below if you’re interested in reading any of them. And if you’re not and just curious, here’s one of my favorites so far. Of course it’s one of Karr’s and even though I know it’s about God and religion, it makes me feel something and for that, I like it.
VI. Wisdom: The Voice of God
by Mary Karr
Ninety percent of what’s wrong with you
could be cured with a hot bath,
says God through the manhole covers,
but you want magic, to win
the lottery you never bought a ticket for.
(Tenderly, the monks chant,
embrace the suffering.) The voice never
panders, offers no five-year plan,
no long-term solution, no edicts from a cloudy
white beard hooked over ears.
It is small and fond and local. Don’t look for
your initials in the geese honking
overhead or to see through the glass even
darkly. It says the most obvious shit,
i.e. Put down that gun, you need a sandwich.
Full List of the runners up for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry 2019:
Ada Limón, The Carrying
Forrest Gander, Be With
Kevin Prufer, How He Loved Them
Terrance Hayes, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin
Max Ritvo, The Final Voicemails
Kyle Dargan, Anagnorisis
Diane Seuss, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl
jos charles, feeld
Chelsey Minnis, Baby I Don’t Care
Diana Khoi Nguyen, Ghost Of
J. Michael Martinez, Museum of the Americas
A. E. Stallings, Like
Carol Muske-Dukes, Blue Rose
Mary Karr, Tropic of Squalor
Sherwin Bitsu, Dissolve