Essay By Robert Wrigley

Essay By Robert Wrigley-90
There are readers who would find that sort of strategy suspect: the idea that a formal or structural device could shape a collection in a meaningful way. The collection’s personal, at least historically personal—family history, in which we get to know an evermore silent coal miner father and a eerily silent-but-communicative mother, as well as the fences, literal and figurative, that keep them separate and together.

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Add to this certain aspects of astronomical physics (black holes, the big bang, the sound of the universe speaking), and the book is both modest and immensely ambitious.

Finally, in regards to a blind evaluation: most of the way through the manuscript, I’m unaware of the poet’s gender.

“Dust” was written about the time I was, you might say, entering into the possibilities of rhyme (it was accepted, as many were in those days, by David Wagoner, to whom I offer my thanks); “Hanging Laundry On a Windy Day in Assisi,” was written in Italy this past May, and it suggests that those possibilities have stayed with me.

Rilke said, “Rhyme is a goddess of secret and ancient coincidences,” and that strikes me as one of the finest things anyone’s ever said about a poetic technique.

in Poetry from the University of Montana in 1976, where he studied under poets Richard Hugo, Madeline De Frees, and John Haines.

In 20 he had poems published in Best American Poetry, and in 2013, his poem "Religion" appeared in The Best of the Best American Poetry: 25th Anniversary Edition, selected by Robert Pinsky.Included in Sure Shot are three dramatic monologues in the voices of 19 century American women: Sacagawea, Louisa May Alcott, and Annie Oakley.The Oakley poem was adapted for the stage and produced by the Helicon Theatre Company in Los Angeles.Funkhouser’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Ploughshares, The Paris Review, Poetry and other magazines; one of her poems has been sand-blasted into the wall of the Davis Square MBTA Station in Somerville, MA.Educated at Vassar College (BA) and Stanford University (MA), Funkhouser was honored as a Literary Light by The Boston Public Library in 2002 and in 2007 she received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry. to Robert Wrigley, Final Judge, for his insightful choice; and, most of all, congratulations to Erica Funkhouser.A NOTE FROM THE FINAL JUDGE “I’m fascinated by the formal deftness of these couplets—three per page of almost exactly the same length (without word-processing assistance)—which are, yes, a set of fence rails (and I love the invisible, stolid posts).Among other things, the first is about getting very dirty; the other is about the joy of clean laundry.But both are very much about the places in which they occur.I am, it has been pointed out, a “poet of place.” That’s not something I care to explain, even if I thought I could.Many poets are after a sense of the transcendent, some momentary collision with what is holy or sublime.


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