Friday, February 3, 2017

Dazzling, Pulse-Changing, Transformative

by Editor in Chief Mary Bast

Founded by Bill Henderson and published every year since 1976, the Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small presses series has become a highly honored literary project, an anthology of the best poetry, short fiction, and essays nominated by small press editors (up to six nominees) from work they've published over the previous year.

Poet and former Pushcart Prize poetry editor Jane Hirshfield describes the series as "a unique opportunity to try to bring a widened audience to a few poems I find dazzling, pulse-changing, transformative."

While "dazzling, pulse-changing, and transformative" weren't our exact words when first opening Lynn Geri's 2016 submission, 2016 Poetry Editor Kaye Linden and I came close, referring to "an incredible poetic voice, heartbreaking and powerful" and "definitely a WOW!" And we were in immediate agreement about including "Life of a Scion" among our Pushcart nominations. We don't know yet if Geri's dazzling poem will be selected for inclusion in the anthology, but we have no question that it's worthy of the wider audience served by the Pushcart Prize.

Life of a Scion watched too tightly
Against its Nature
by Lynn Geri

Strange face, smell, voice, touch, taste,
deranged wallpaper cats with big round eyes.
A new family. Smiles hold me too tight.
My second birth. They call me a scion.
I cry. Eyes watch. I disappear myself.
Mama, where are you mama?

                    A forsythia scion, cut last fall,
                    lies separate this spring,
                    unaware it is severed from its roots,
                    covers itself with yellow blossoms,
                    trying to grow.

Born bad, I eat too much, too little.
Yellow is wrong word, I can't have water.
I move. Straps hold me strong to the bed.
I try eyes open, closed. Don't bother.
"Bad seed." I speed. No need, I'm too slow.
Mommy, where are you? Mommy.

                    A cherry branch thought worthless,
                    pruned and discarded. By its nature
                    strives to grow, fails, tries again, again,
                    splurges on a mass of pink blossoms,
                    in one last struggle to bear fruit.

Terror of speaking, my eyes seek ground.
I climb trees, above their eyes. Years soar . . . 
I'm a cutting. My knife holds a woman,
behind a pink flowered bedroom door.
Bars slam shut. Prison guards watch.
Mom! Mom! Where are you? Mom?

                    A crab apple branch,
                    cut for forcing,
                    left too long without water,
                    buds dry, stem hardens,
                    unable to bloom.

You can't squeeze me. I seize time.
I point my watch's twig hands
toward my swinging feet. No one sees my
silent scream. As the twisted sheet bands,
eyelids close over me.
Mother,  do   you   see   me   now?   Mother.

Lynn Geri waited until she was into her seventh decade to take up the study of poetry. She has become deeply engaged with the beauty and romance of language. Lynn lives in a forest on Whidbey Island, in Washington State's Puget Sound. She is also to be published in Sonora Review.

More examples of poetry we've published: "Sestina: That mouth. . .," "Big Bang," "Under the Frankincense Tree," "cuffing season," "Fesenjān Fever," "Reading Between the Lines of A Tale of Two Cities: Imperial Germany 1918," "a prayer," "plummet," "What the Astronaut Said," "Wasp and Pear"  

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