2017 Lois Cranston Memorial Poetry Prize



The Vanishing


Yes I know the world is blasting

clear off its tracks spilling its

marbles leaving us

reeling like drunks before

the hangover clamps

down yes I know things are

bad and good

people are worried I

know that some of us

will disappear and won’t

come back the Giant

Ibis for example or the New

Caledonian owlet-nightjar the

Georgia aster and a picky

Goldenrod that loves only certain

mountains even the great

lumbering mammals smiling from

mascots and advertisements

may fade into a red sun-

set yes things are vanishing a

mile a minute but right

now I am standing in a circle

of humans hip to hip a hot river

of music playing so slow so thick

we sway as one body & the golden

cage that balances in

my chest has a door it

swings wide open no

guards no whistles no

lock to pick just

a cloud of birds

white birds with no

name they keep coming this

blurred murmuration these

flowers with wings soft

they settle about the room

watching as eyes closed voices

stilled we feel our way over

mountains of bones

along the edges of

freak and whore and faggot

into a species

of peace an


of the soul

and all this time

they are watching

blinking roosting close

ready to lift their wings ready

to knock at the walls for hours

days years ready to



Marisa Handler is the author of the award-winning memoir Loyal to the Sky, and her essays, poetry, and fiction have been published in numerous publications. She earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has received multiple fellowships, including a Fulbright and an Elizabeth George Foundation grant. She teaches Creative Writing at Mills College and Stanford, and is also a singer-songwriter.  www.marisahandler.com.



Click here for Issa M. Lewiss poem, "Child's Pose "

Click here for Alice Duggans poem, "First Night "

Click here for Sudasi Clements poem, "Welcome Song "


Judge Alicia Ostriker is a poet and critic, author of seventeen collections of poetry, most recently The Book of Seventy (winner of the National Jewish Book Award);The Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog; and Waiting for the Light. She has received the Paterson Poetry Prize, the San Francisco State Poetry Center Award, the William Carlos Williams Award, and has been twice nominated for the National Book Award among other honors. As a critic she is the author of Stealing the Language: The Emergence of Women's Poetry in America and other books on poetry and the Bible. She is a distinguished Professor Emerita of Rutgers University, teaches in the low-residencey Poetry MFA at Drew University, and is currently a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.



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Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist

by Kathleen Alcalá

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