The UNT Department of English is pleased to announce that Allison Benis White's Please Bury Me in This, published by Four Way Books, has won the 2018 UNT Rilke Prize. The $10,000 prize recognizes a book written by a mid-career poet and published in the preceding year that demonstrates exceptional artistry and vision.
In her moving book-length meditation on language and bereavement, Please Bury Me in This, the poet Allison Benis White writes, "In the museum of sadness, in the museum of light-- // I would climb so carefully inside the glass coffin and lower the lid." The book enacts just such an attempt, to enter the space of the unspeakable--the suffering of those lost to suicide--and to speak there, but the gestures of longing remain fraught, haunted by hopelessness, destined to begin and begin again. The suicide note, the letter to the dead, the message scrawled by a death camp victim and buried in a jar--they resonate as modes of singing, of reaching toward the inaccessible, whose radical mystery remains, and therein resides a measure of the music's beauty, its power to hold us, if only briefly, in its glass. Out of the mouth, a ring of gray against a wall. Out of emptiness, a listening, an inconsolable compulsion to "assemble the soul."
The judges also selected three finalists for this year's Rilke Prize: Christopher Howell's Love's Last Number (Milkweed Editions), Alessandra Lynch's Daylily Called it a Dangerous Moment (Alice James Books), and Maurice Manning's One Man's Dark (Copper Canyon Press).
Click here for a feature on KERA's Art & Seek about Allison Benis White and the UNT Rilke Prize.