David Keplinger has selected "Jaw" by Megan Arlett as the winner of the 2019 Voertman / Academy of American Poets Prize.
He writes: "The imagery in this exquisite piece of writing immediately transports us into a marsupial world in which a baby is housed in a cupboard; the speaker pouched in a bathtub; "a possum family/ trundl[es] out from the crawl space across our lawn." The world is a nesting doll full of vacancies, one inside the other, the poet suggests, and the weight of its gaps and spaciousness provoke sometimes an existential emptiness ("little lamb in his casket"), and other times a sense of possibility and becoming ("arms pregnant/with a paper bag filled to the lip/by oranges"). The solace of biology evokes for me the work of Katherine Larson; the way the mother engages with "the literature" of motherhood; but it is the voice of this poem that is most remarkable, translucent here: the frankness of these translations from abstract worry and spiritual exhaustion allow for some redemption--if only for some future self, "a woman like me"--in the marvelous closing stanzas of the poem."
Megan will receive $200 and be named in the Academy's annual report. She will also be recognized at the UNT Rilke Prize reading on Thursday, April 4, 2019.
To learn more about the Voertman / Academy of American Poets Prize visit: http://english.unt.edu/creative-writing/voertman-aap-prize