Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ruth Lilly Fellowship

It's been six months since I received my first acceptance letter. I remember standing in the kitchen after work and opening my e-mail. Upon seeing an unread e-mail from Jeff Fleming with the subject line "Re: Sean Butner: Poetry Submissi...", I readied myself to accept the rejection and send my poems again. Instead, the letter informed me that the good folk at nibble magazine would like to publish a sonnet that I had written after the first brisk night in August.

Six months later I have more than a dozen poems appearing in print and online and am finally starting to think of myself as a poet. Two days from now, the Poetry Foundation will stop accepting applications for the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship. The award goes to five American poets between 21 and 31 years old based on a self-introduced collection of ten poems.

Although I'm not holding my breath to receive an e-mail this August informing me that I've made it to the shortlist, I'm not going to prevent it. To help stoke myself for writing my own introduction, I'm reposting "Laying of Hands" - the poem that six months ago Jeff Fleming decided should be available in print.

"Laying of Hands"

I dread the fall's first frost
Laying fearful bony hands
On the small specks of rain and
Veiny webs of dew sprawling across the
Windshield. All the wet and warm of summer
Will give way to those fretful fingers
And crisp crystalline limbs.

But those are not our days yet, nor not
Now do we worry of cold snaps or quick
Freezes. Our mornings make mist
Of moist fields and furrows from the still high sun,
And our evening air teems with flying things
And all manner of minor wildlife.

The horizon sparks with soundless light.

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