The Shallows

By STACEY LYNN BROWN

JAMES BAKER HALL MEMORIAL PRIZE IN POETRY WINNER

Judge: Cecilia Woloch,
poet and author of the collections
Late, Carpathia, and her latest, Earth
“When I finished reading ‘The Shallows’ the first time, I (literally) said, “Wow,” out loud. The poem had such cumulative emotional power for me, and moved me so deeply, and in such unexpected ways. I was stunned, when I went back and started reading it again, by the craft of it, by the precision of its language, the subtlety of its stitchery, the cinematic quality of its imagery. And then I noticed the very subtle rhymes,the repetitions, and began to see the bones of the poem, its structure. Only on a third reading did I realize the poem was a variation on the sonnet crown, a poetic form that (for me) represents an almost impossibly difficult feat of composition. Looking more closely, still, I saw the ways the poet had gone beyond the form, added variations, made it her/his own. ‘The Shallows’ is a poem that is, first and foremost, deeply moving, deeply felt, but that has been crafted with such grace and precision that we barely notice that craft at work, as we’re swept up in the poem’s intensity and mystery, the emotional drama of a beloved father’s disappearance from the physical world.”

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Stacey Lynn Brown is a poet, playwright, and essayist from Atlanta. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Prairie Schooner, Crab Orchard Review, Copper Nickel, and The Rumpus, as well as From the Fishouse; The Book of Scented Things; The Southern Poetry Anthology Volume V: Georgia; The Rumpus Poetry Anthology; and Stone, River, Sky: The Georgia Poetry Anthology. She is the author of the book-length poem Cradle Song (C&R Press, 2009) and is the co-editor, with Oliver de la Paz, of A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry (University of Akron Press, 2012). She teaches in the Master of Fine Arts Program at Indiana University in Bloomington.


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