UNT has announced the fifth winner of its annual $10,000 poetry prize. Rick Barot, who leads the Rainier Writing Workshop in Washington state, has won the Rilke Poetry Prize, named for the great German poet Rainier Maria Rilke. The prize recognizes a mid-career writer who has released an exceptional book of poetry.
Barot was born in the Phillipines and raised in San Francisco. His essays and poems have appeared in ‘The New Republic,’ ‘The Paris Review’ and ‘Poetry’ magazine. His winning book, his third poetry collection, called ‘Chord,’ is also a finalist for the LATimes Book Prize and was shortlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award. As part of the Rilke Prize, Barot will be at UNT for two public events in April.
‘Tarp’ by Rick Barot – from ‘Chord’
I have seen the black sheets laid out like carpets
under the trees, catching the rain
of olives as they fell. Also the cerulean brightness
of the one covering the bad roof
of a neighbor’s shed, the color the only color
inside the winter’s weeks. Another one
took the shape of the pile of bricks underneath.
Another flew off the back of a truck,
black as a piano if a piano could rise into the air.
I have seen the ones under bridges,
the forms they make of sleep. I could go on
this way until the end of the page, even though
what I have in my mind isn’t the thing
itself, but the category of belief that sees the thing
as a shelter for what is beneath it.
There is no shelter. You cannot put a tarp over
a wave. You cannot put a tarp
over a war. You cannot put a tarp over the broken
oil well miles under the ocean.
There is no tarp for that raging figure in the mind
that sits in a corner and shreds receipts
and newspapers. There is no tarp for dread,
whose only recourse is language
so approximate it hardly means what it means:
He is not here. She is sick. She cannot remember
her name. He is old. He is ashamed.