Last month Prairie Schooner announced its annual literary awards, and Nance Van Winckel, who has already appeared on the pages of Numéro Cinq several times for her poetry, video art, photocollages and off the page pho-toems, won the Edward Stanley Award for nine poems that appeared in the magazine’s summer issue. It’s a huge pleasure to offer here three of the prize-winning poems. Nance is one of my favourite co-workshop-leaders at Vermont College of Fine Arts, a hip lady with a wry sense of humour and knowing grace. —dg
Three Edward Stanley Award-Winning Poems
By Nance Van Winckel
You Might Remember Her From Earlier
Sawing into my September mind, one step
and I’m on the crowded path, shoving
toward the vortex. Information in the place
of grief. Trafficking in it. The shirt had
a name, but the man didn’t. Girl, that’s
one lousy anti-Lazarusian report.
The boss wants newer news. Scrubbed
news. In fewer picas. Enter the underground,
pass through the turnstile, everyone trying
to say they told me so. Part of a horde
on pause in a train, I sat under my book’s
black awning. How I loved those cold mornings
of the early pages—turning up
the marble hallways of the vast B.C.
Work For Food, his sign says, so we
put him in our truck & truck him
to the building, condemned, & give him
a sledgehammer & a ham-on-rye & ditto
the same unto ourselves whose butt tattoos
read Work Will Make Us Free & we three
fall upon the struts & joists, we beat back
& swing low, we dig out & haul ass
so rubble is again as it’s always been
the rule of the world, until he whom
we carried with us we may carry away
& refeed and high five & bid adieu so he
may turn his sign at last to the flipside
that tells us to Have a Blessed Day.
The Red Line
The Mommy says her Little Man eats, page
by page, whatever romance she’s reading.
Eats headlines and bugs from the yard.
The train rattles around us
and every time the doors blow apart, Little Man leans
to lick the breeze. He leaves no unturned stone
uneaten. Everything’s fire-roasted, taste-
tested. What amplification
he gives space when his mouth opens. He may be
one part per trillion of the world,
but he plans to ingest the other
999.9 billion. He has
the stomach for it, for all us scarfed and hatted,
stuck in a paragraph of dashed hopes.
As the stops yank us in or push
us out, he sees me and nibbles
at my grudge. Little cloud in Little Man’s eye
is all that finally puts him to sleep,
and sleep on him is just too terrible
a beauty to behold. For even
asleep, Little Man punches the Mommy’s breast,
sure it’ll never empty, sure
he’ll always stay a bee
upon the white flower.
—Nance Van Winckel
(Post Design by Mahtem Shiferraw)
These three are great! So glad to have the opportunity to read them here. Thank you.
These are wonderful, Nance. I’ve had pictures in my head all day, collages of them, pho-toems.
“I sat under my book’s black awning” — lovely image.
Wonderful, Nance. I suspect “The Red Line” has made a permanent home in my psyche.
Thank you to everyone here who took the time to read these and leave me such kind notes. I’m pressing forward on a new book of poems of which these will be a part.
These are terrific, Nance! And each one its own world. “The Red Line” is especially lovely and startling.