Writers' Corner

Maggie Nelson

2011 Poetry

Author's Statement

This award comes at a terrific time for me, as it offers both encouragement and recognition of my career as a poet and writer thus far. I am immensely grateful for it, as it will make all kinds of unforeseen things possible for me in the coming year. I truly look forward to the open vista of thinking and articulating that it promises, and I offer my great thanks for its gift.


Can beauty save us? Yesterday
I looked at the river and a sliver
of moon and knew the answer;

today I fell asleep in a spot of sun
behind a Vermont barn, woke to
darkness, a thin whistle of wind

and the answer changed. Inside the barn
the boys build bongs out of
copper piping, electrical tape, and

jars. All of the children here have
leaky brown eyes, and a certain precision
of gesture. Even the maple syrup

tastes like liquor. After dinner
I sit the cutest little boy on my knee
and read him a book about the history of cod

absentmindedly explaining overfishing,
the slave trade. People for rum? he asks,
incredulously. Yes, I nod. People for rum.