Saturday, December 17, 2005

2005 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize

Anne Winters' The Displaced of Capital won the 2005 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize.

In The Front Table

"The displaced of capital have come to the capital." This first line in the second stanza of the title poem in Anne Winters' latest collection, The Displaced of Capital encapsulates the overarching concern of her latest edition. Winters' 'capital' is New York City and her 'displaced of capital' are those economically and/or geographically marginalized. Many of these poems deal with immigrants, those "who have come to the capital," with dreams in their hearts. The pieces' subtly, yet strongly, outline their predicament: the face of the city as both oppressor and liberator, a place of both local inclusion and larger exclusion. In this title poem, for example, Winters initially etches out her themes through a more detached observation, one nonetheless politically sharp: "the subsistence farms of chickens, yams and guava / are bought by transnationals... ." And then: "and now it seems the farmer / has left behind his ploughed-under village for an illegal / partitioned attic in the outer boroughs... ." The finish of this piece yields a lens of personal reflection, sympathy, and, almost, cultural guilt: "... so how can I today / warm myself at the sad heartening narrative of immigration?" Winters does not exactly warm herself, but narrate she does. In "An Immigrant Woman," Winters tells the tale of her friendly relationship with a neighbor, Pilar; their local fight against city practices which had been adversely affecting the neighborhood; and the tragic blameworthy loss of Pilar's daughter. Here again, Winters maintains an astute cross-pollination of personal lyric and understanding of political injustice, and, as is true throughout most of the edition, she often does so through her attention to objects and space. Architectural elements, foodstuffs, and sharp descriptions of people and street life all give the reader (and one would assume, the writer herself) a visceral connection to the subject matter. In "Mill Race," for example, Winters' notes on the mill-workers are astute and telling: "In close-ups now you can see it in every face..." / "It's gravity, spilling in capillaries, cheek-tissue trembling / despite the make-up... the mass-market designer scarves." The Displaced of Capital proves an evocative portrayal of the city and its often invisible citizens. Front Table


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