Each year AWP (the Association of Writer’s & Writing Programs) selects the best poetry, fiction, and nonfiction written by undergraduate and graduate students in participating creative wrtiting programs within the United States. Unpublished manuscripts are nominated by AWP member programs and AWP judges pick the winners. Eight literary journals from throughout the nation then publish these works, and Artful Dodge joined this group starting with the 2003-2004 AWP Winners. Here is that year’s winner for poetry, as published in Artful Dodge 46/47 :
by Kara Mason
She keeps a rough sack of potatoes in the entry,
a trough disguised as dressing table,
they squat unseen there, planted before the mirror
where we lay our mittens, where she rests her small body
on one hand to sigh, then buttons my purse inside my coat.
We pickle vegetables and store them in my bedroom.
Jars with swimming greens and reds line the windowsill–
chilled from the draft, we spoon them on fried yaitsa each morning.
The jars saved for the coldest winter months are window bars,
protecting me from the night in our ground floor apartment.
But in the early evening our kitchen is bright
as we weigh out heaps of sugar and flour on a scale
against a pile of fifty-gram weights.
She is cutting apples, blackened with rot.
She sugars them for the pirog.
And I am by her side only because the oven warms
the kitchen, and the night grows too dark to go into.