Annal: 2003 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award

Results of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award in the year 2003.

Book:Waterborne

Waterborne: Poems

Linda Gregerson

“The river is largely implicit here,” writes Linda Gregerson about her acre of woods. Whether open to view or underground, her river maps communal fate: everything that lives is its direct dependent. The river can also bring infection: it is a branching repository for toxicity. It carries news, much of which is a litany of harm—recklessness, malice, failures of heart, and failures of attention—but the poems in Waterborne somehow extract from adversity a syntax of devotion.

“The past / that has a place for us will know us by / our scattered wake,” Gregerson also writes. The resilient tercets in which these poems are written might themselves be thought of as a scattered wake—the luminous record of movement through various lives. These stirring poems can be considered tools for staging daily rescues from oblivion. Their occasions are diverse—a barn fire, a wounded deer, a child’s determined struggle with a bicycle—but their instinct is always to wrest from the impure world a vernacular of praise.

As Mark Strand has written, “Linda Gregerson’s poetry is among the very best being written.”

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