Annal: 1997 Yale Younger Poets Prize

Results of the Yale Younger Poets Prize in the year 1997.

Book:My Shining Archipelago

My Shining Archipelago

Talvikki Ansel

Talvikki Ansel’s My Shining Archipelago is the winner of the 1996 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. Her book gives us a front-row seat in a true Amazon theater where, says James Dickey in his foreword, “Ansel finds her way of bringing into language the hellish magnificence, the perverse pluralism-more, always more, in the Amazon basin.” This cycle of “freewheeling sonnets” (Part II of the book) is cradled between sections of ambitious lyrics that recall Dutch still lifes in their intense scrutiny of pears, eels, gutted birds, to get at their essence. The book closes with a second sonnet cycle that inverts the subject of the first: instead of European civilization (the opera house Teatro Amazonas) coming to the jungle, an untutored human who is just learning to name things—Shakespeare’s Caliban—is dropped in the middle of Elizabethan London.

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