My Shining Archipelago

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Talvikki Ansel; Foreword by James Dickey

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The winner of the 1996 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition is Talvikki Ansel for My Shining Archipelago.

"Ansel`s poetry is refreshingly original," says the distinguished poet and contest judge James Dickey. "She renders the heat, the closeness, the mystery, and the terrible fear of the undisclosed, the lurking, the waiting to happen. This is true imagination, true craft."

Flemish Beauty
Yesterday, all winter,
I had not thought of pears, considered:
pear.  The tear-shaped, papery core,
precise seeds. This one channeled
through with worm tunnels.
Bruises, a rotten half—
sometimes there’s nothing left
to drop into the pot.

                                  That phrase
I could have said: “you still
have us…”
                  The knife
slides easily beneath the skins,
top to base, spiraling
them away.

The insubstantial us.
It could as well be the pear
talking to the river, turning to
the grass (“you still have us”).
Besides, it’s just me
a pear in my hand (the slop bucket full
of peels)—and sometimes, yes, that
seems enough: a pear—

                                      this larger one,
yellow-green, turning to red:
“Duchess” maybe, “Devoe,”
or what I want to call it: “Flemish
                 When I can’t sleep,
I’ll hold my hand as if I held
a pear, my fingers mimicking
the curve. The same curve
as the newel post
I’ve used for years, swinging
myself up to the landing, always
throwing my weight back. And always
nails loosening, mid-bound.

Talvikki Ansel attended Connecticut College and received a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and an M.F.A. from Indiana University. Her poems have appeared in many magazines and journals, including the Missouri Review, the Iowa Review, Poetry East, and Shenandoah. She lives in Palo Alto, California, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Creative Writing at Stanford University

"The Yale Series of Younger Poets remains the most prestigious [of poetry contests]."—Library Journal

"Ansel's poems are surprising and imaginative, filled with fresh insight into the natural world."—Maura Stanton, Ploughshares

"Ansel crafts a poetic line of measured, sustained grace and elegance, most often without rhyme or music, but with a hushed, almost feverish suspension of breath. Her vision reveals a world in movement. . . . An exciting debut by a distinctive new poetic voice already in command of considerable gifts."—America

"The poems contain riches that can be plundered again and again."—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

"Ansel's poetry is refreshingly original. She renders the heat, the closeness, the mystery, and the terrible fear of the undisclosed, the lurking, the waiting to happen. This is true imagination, true craft."—James Dickey, from the foreword

Winner of the 2001 Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers awarded by Washington and Lee University
ISBN: 9780300070323
Publication Date: March 27, 1997
70 pages, 5 1/2 x 9 1/4
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