Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Bill Zavatsky wins Guggenheim Award

Poet Bill Zavatsky has just been informed that he has received the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim fellowship for his poetry.

Bill has recently published a book of poems with Hanging Loose Press entitled Where X Marks the Spot.

Adrienne Rich, one of the great American poets, has called this collection "a lovely heartwarming book."
Ron Padgett has written that "In poems whose language is as clear and straightforward as that of Williams or Reznikoff, Bill Zavatsky turns the floodlight of honesty onto himself, transforming by the very act of examination, his demons of anger, self-pity, loneliness, and regret. This is brave and mature work, capacious enough for elegy and humor."
I think Ron is right. I've recently read "Where X Marks the Spot," and I was impressed by Bill's honesty and gravity. He's a poet who understands that poetry is a gift that must be shared.
Here's one of Bill's poems:

Train Ride

For M.R.F.

Riding back from our day in the Big City
on the sluggish old New York, New Haven, and Hartford,
hot as blazes, train windows that couldn’t be opened, air-
conditioning years away, or broken, and dusty blue plush seats—

all romantic enough. Also it was very late, black
outside the black glossy plate glass squares that shone our images
back at us as you leaned a little against my shoulder,
then finally leaned your head against my shoulder.

No, I’m making that up. It didn’t happen that way.
Your head, I think, was turned away from me, against
the corner where the seat met the wall of the car. . . .
What happened, very slowly, was that the shaking

of the train began to send your pink hand closer and
closer to mine as my hand trembled on the seat. Closer,
closer, as if my hand were a rickety trap I had set for yours, oh,
a gentle trap, but nonetheless how much I wanted to trap

your hand, to tame it, claim it as mine—and hoped
that you would be willing to let me. That was what
the train ride home meant to me—your hand slipping towards
mine, and I pretending that I had nothing to do with it,

that it would be an inescapable conclusion, a result
of the laws of physics when finally they touched,
those two hands that at that moment seemed neither to belong
to you or to me; that no intention could bring your hand

to me, that our touch would be the result of motion, fate,
and time until I touched your fingers or they touched mine.
And when they did I took them and then your palm
in my hand and we began. And this is what I understood

as poetry, that it would come to me when I was ready,
and this is what I also first understood as love

(The photo above was taken by Margaretta K. Mitchell.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bill Zavatsky... There is unusual poet. His poetry is charms like autumn mid-mornings or summer evenings. I wish Him and His poetry progress only and beautiful.