Praise how they come into the world, despite their unlikeliness, and how they just keep coming. Praise lines, verses, stanzas spilling down the page, praise white space en mass in this paperless age. To judge the Balcones Prize, I must read 37 books, and in this box they wait for me. Inside, a thousand poems with their pronouncements, their suggestions, their nuance, their clarity. They wait for me from cold apartments in Soviet Russia and the once-burned landscape of Hiroshima, from the deep seas of a father’s past and hands joining across a kitchen table. Praise the belief that we still have something to say. Praise the publishers who help us to say it. Praise the notebooks and napkins and open Word documents out of which they came. Praise the order, the voice, the desire to find just the right word. Praise, again, the lines, verses, stanzas, white space. Praise the music. Praise the need to speak it.
April 3, 2015