Don Bogen on Ashley Seitz Kramer’s Prize-Winning Poem:
What I especially admire in “Winter Storyboard” is the way it builds. There’s a sense of confidence and deft control behind the rhetoric and varied syntax here, and the pacing is exquisite. With each couplet we are led deeper into a world of nature, the eccentric, and the maternal that becomes more vivid and compelling the stranger it gets. The scene unfolds with the haunting clarity and persistence of a dream that won’t let go.
Ashley Seitz Kramer on “Winter Storyboard”:
Long before the “green” movement, long before it was hip to recycle and drive a hybrid, my mother collected the rain to water the flowers, built a house for the bats and a hotel for the neighborhood cats. She taught me how to appreciate what has been broken down—from age, weather, and use—and, perhaps triumphantly, what can be saved, repurposed and remembered with tenderness and creativity. I know that I started to write the poem with these things in mind, so I suppose this poem is for her and about her, but it’s also true that this poem is not about her. Yes, my mother has done the things I describe in this poem, but this persona seems embellished, fanatical almost. In this way, the language and narrative either betray me or simply expand what even I see and understand about her. No one (but me) would describe my mother in this way, and she would never describe herself this way, yet I think she would recognize herself here. Perhaps this poem asked me to embellish my mother. And why not? Why shouldn’t we embellish the things we love most about the people we love most?
Winners of the Schiff Prize in Poetry and Prose will appear in the May 2011 issue.